MEXICO CITY Carlos Slim's new professional football teams Leon and Pachuca are considering listing on the stock exchange as the tycoon seeks to break TV networks' stranglehold on sports broadcasting.
No other Mexican sports teams are publicly owned and the move would give the two teams access to more resources to buy in better players and invest in youth academies.
"It would be great that our fans could buy shares into their own teams," Pachuca President Jesus Martinez told Reuters on Thursday, although he added it may take some time before the plan pans out.
Pachuca ranked 6th of 18 clubs in the national football league in the last Mexican championship and Leon has just made it back to the first division after a decade in the wilderness.
In Latin America, other football teams have tapped financial markets. In Chile, three clubs trade publicly: Colo Colo, Universidad de Chile and Universidad Catolica. According to Reuters data, the three have a combined market value of close to $200 million.
Sports fan Slim made his first foray into football ownership last week as his mobile giant, America Movil, acquired a 30 percent stake in the two clubs in Mexico's first division. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.
On Thursday, Slim's spokesman Arturo Elias Ayub said America Movil also bought the transmission rights for the Leon team, which he said had a good chance of becoming national champion one day.
Elias Ayub was once president of the Pumas team, leading them to win back-to-back national championships. The team belongs to Mexico's National Autonomous University, from which billionaire Slim graduated with an engineering degree.
INTO NEW TERRITORY
Slim's Leon and Pachuca stakes challenge the grip that top broadcasters Televisa and TV Azteca have held on the local football business for years.
Themselves owners of big money-making professional football franchises, the broadcasters have been often accused by smaller teams of setting the rules in terms of transmission rights and advertising.
Slim, who has been fighting for years to get a television license, caught the TV networks offside last year by webstreaming free live coverage of the Pan American Games, which the stations said was a breach of their broadcast rights.
Elias Ayub said the Leon matches will be aired with FoxSports on cable networks across Latin America, Telemundo network in the United States and via popular sports online site Medio Tiempo and Slim's own online channel, Uno TV, in Mexico.
Slim dominates the market for mobile and fixed phones in Mexico, but the government has kept him out of the country's main television market.
In the meantime, he has kept busy by boosting the sports programming of the online Uno TV. Slim is a big baseball fan -- his favourite team is the New York Yankees -- and also loves car racing and boxing.
(Additional reporting by Carlos Pacheco in Mexico, Ignacio Badal and Javier Lopez in Chile and Jorge Otaola in Argentina; Editing by Dan Grebler and Phil Berlowitz)