Bargain Hunting in a Buyer's Market
Latin American investors are buying up companies left behind by retreating multinationals. More local investors are getting ready to hit the acquisition trail soon.
Carlos Slim, Mexico's wealthiest and shrewdest businessman, is a past master at the waiting game. Years ago, as telecom giants like Verizon, BellSouth and Telecom Italia spent billions on Latin American cellphone networks, Slim quietly decided to bide his time. He expected that sooner or later some of these businesses would wind up on the auction block at tempting prices. He set up América Móvil as a vehicle to buy up cellphone operations as they became available and weld them into a regional wireless company. Carlos García Moreno, chief financial officer of América Móvil, says, "América Móvil was born at the end of 2000 and it was always understood that the company was meant to be a regional player and that would entail going ahead with acquisitions." América Móvil has since spent $2.5 billion to buy 14 companies in the Americas, mainly from multinationals retreating from the region.
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