Latin America provides Slim's pickings

The man believed to be the third richest in the world, Carlos Slim Helu, is to buy three Latin American telecoms operations from US carrier Verizon Communications. It is his intention to extend his grip on the telecommunications market across the region, in this case using America Movil and Telmex as his weapons.

Seller Verizon said that its stakes in providers in the Dominican Republic , Puerto Rico and Venezuela would fetch US$3.7 billion, with the deal carried out in three transactions. More specifically, Verizon owns all of Verizon Dominicana, 52% of Telecomunicaciones de Puerto Rico Inc and 28.5% of Cia Anonima Nacional Telofonos de Venezuela.

Carlos Slim Helu is already the majority owner of America Movil, Latin America 's leading cellular phone provider, and Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex), the top fixed-line telephony and Internet provider in Mexico .

The three Verizon properties, serving more than 15 million customers for wireless, traditional telephone and Internet services, have about 17,000 employees. Verizon in turn said the investments represent a small part of its revenue base and are no longer part of the company's core business focus.

The action of Verizon mirrors that of another US carrier, BellSouth, which also recently sold its Latin American operations after failing to generate solid revenue from the region. In this case, the beneficiaries not only numbered Slim's two companies but also Spain 's Telefonica, America Movil's main rival.

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