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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