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INTERVIEW-After TV win, Mexico's Grupo Imagen may explore telecom
March 12, 2015 / 10:02 PM / 3 years ago

INTERVIEW-After TV win, Mexico's Grupo Imagen may explore telecom

(Adds comments by chief executive, details including possible IPO, industry background)

By Gabriel Stargardter

MEXICO CITY, March 12 (Reuters) - Mexican media company Grupo Imagen, which has just won one of two new national TV concessions, may look to move into the lucrative telecoms sector, the chief executive of the family-owned company said on Thursday.

Grupo Imagen was awarded the free-to-air TV concession on Wednesday after bidding 1.81 billion pesos ($116.8 million). The auction was part of a government overhaul of the hidebound phone and TV markets, which are controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil and broadcaster Televisa .

Grupo Imagen, the media arm of privately held banking, hotel, construction and hospital company Grupo Empresarial Angeles (GEA), is run by Olegario Vazquez Aldir, an up-and-coming Mexican mogul.

In an interview, Vazquez Aldir acknowledged the threat posed to free-to-air TV by new technologies including Netflix , and said the company might at some point follow in the footsteps of Televisa, by looking to move into the more lucrative telecoms market.

“I don’t rule out that in the future, we could strike alliances with telecoms companies,” he said. “We understand perfectly well the challenges posed by new technologies, and that the younger generations are consuming content through other digital platforms.”

Vazquez Aldir said he had not spoken with Slim or any other telecom companies. Slim’s America Movil is trying to offload assets to comply with new regulation resulting from the government’s telecom reform, which was finalized last year.

Grupo Imagen expects to invest 10 billion pesos in the new network over the next 36 months, Vazquez Aldir said. It aims to be broadcasting in Mexico’s main cities by January 2016 and to have the rest of the country covered within three years.

The money would mainly be spent on buying or renting land to install broadcast infrastructure, he said, adding that the company hoped to sell its content eventually in the United States, to capitalize on the growing Latino market there.

The 42-year-old Vazquez Aldir, who owns Mexican soccer club Queretaro, said the company might also look at an initial public offering of any one of its four units, but ruled out any imminent listing. He said the company at present does not need fresh funds to keep growing. (Editing by Simon Gardner and Matthew Lewis)

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