After months of activity that suggested that the carrier wanted out of Latin America, AT&T’s divestment of its America Movil stake earlier this year actually signaled something much bigger in aiming to become a direct competitor to the conglomerate’s crown jewel in Telcel, as the carrier has announced the forthcoming acquisition of Mexican mobile carrier Iusacell from the Grupo Salinas conglomerate for $2.5 billion, with the assumption of the carrier’s current debt load included in the purchase price along with the 50% stake that Grupo Salinas is currently purchasing from Iusacell’s former owner in Grupo Televisa.
With the forthcoming purchase of the carrier, AT&T looks to expand its native coverage area throughout the Mexican territory under the North American Mobile Service initiative, with the majority of Iusacell’s coverage area centered on southern Mexico and the Mexican Federal District. AT&T intends to expand coverage nationwide while also rolling out LTE, as Iusacell does not currently operate an LTE network, should the purchase be approved.
As Iusacell and AT&T operate nearly identical GSM/HSPA base networks, the transition from Iusacell to AT&T is expected to be transparent and the corporate headquarters for Iusacell will remain in Mexico City. AT&T expects the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2015 following local regulator review.