Telmex, Telefónica set to control Brazilian cable

Juan Pablo Conti ©RapidTVNews | 20-10-2011

Telmex and Telefónica, which for years have been fighting to establish themselves as the dominant force in the Latin American telecoms industry, have taken a major step to extending their rivalry to the Brazilian cable TV market.
While both regional giants already have a stake in the two largest MSOs in the country, none of them has as of yet managed to convert their financial muscle into a controlling ownership of these cablecos.
In Telmex's case, the empire built by Mexican magnate Carlos Slim currently owns just above 36% of Net Serviços, Brazil's and Latin America's biggest cable network. In Telefónica's case, the Spanish group upped its stake in TVA (the market's second-biggest MSO, albeit well behind Net) to 49.99% earlier this month.

The main reason why none of the two telcos has taken their ownership in the MSOs which they've chosen to pursue their Brazilian cable TV ambitions beyond the 50% mark is simply because there was a law against it.
But ever since a new law was passed in September which eliminated such restrictions, it has been widely expected that both Telmex and Telefónica would imminently be making a move to reflect in their respective holdings the de facto control that many believe they were already exerting over each of the MSOs.

On Tuesday, it finally emerged that Organizações Globo (owner of nearly 62% of Net's shares) asked Anatel for permission to transfer a large enough number of shares to give Slim's group a controlling stake in the MSO.
And – in a nearly identical move – Grupo Abril (owner of half of TVA plus one share) requested authorisation from the Brazilian telecoms regulator to sell all of its stock to Telefónica.
Anatel is already studying both proposals, which are expected to be met with straightforward approvals.