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Televisa trumpets cell phone tie-up

News comes as Mexico's top broadcaster posts stellar 3Q results

MEXICO CITY

Mexico’s broadcast giant Televisa told investors Thursday it is raising $800 million in the next three years to launch its mobile phone partnership with local operator Iusacell, a deal that will put the heads of the country’s top two TV networks in bed together.

In a conference call, Televisa exec veep Alfonso de Angoitia said he expects the capital to be in place via debt issuances from Iusacell or equity deals.

The exec also touted Televisa’s outstanding performance in the third quarter, as profits rose 41.5% year-on-year to 2.86 billion pesos ($220 million) on explosive feevee and triple-play growth. Overall sales rose 8.7% to $1.34 billion.

Televisa’s satcaster Sky led the pack in subscriber base growth, adding 333,000 units in the third quarter alone to total 4.9 million. Also, the number of subscribers for voice and data packages sold via Televisa’s various cablers, grew 19.7% and 28.1% year-to-year, respectively.

Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas-Pliego owns Iusacell via his Grupo Salinas, which also holds TV Azteca, the No. 2 broadcaster here and the only real rival to Televisa, whose CEO is billionaire Emilio Azcarraga Jean.

While Iusacell only has 6% of the market share in Mexico, with the extra investment and Televisa’s massive media machinery, investors hope the partnership will triple Iusacell’s market share.

The deal has been slowly making its way through a regulatory minefield since it was announced in April 2011, coming in the first few months of an ongoing war for media control in Mexico between Salinas-Pliego and Azcarraga on one side and the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, who heads telco colossus America Movil, on the other.

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