Anatel Likely To Approve Further Consolidation

América Móvil is reportedly interested in strengthening the struct ure of its Brazilian operations by merging them into a single operation. Embratel , Claro and Net Servi ç os will conduct internal analyses and will be in contact with the regulatory authority, Anatel, to assess the feasibility of a merger and the conditions it would operate under. Due to historical precedent, BMI does not see any major issues with the transaction except in the pay-TV sector, and we do see advantages for the unified company once a merger is completed.

Pay-TV Merger A Potential Stumbling Block
Market Shares By Sector (%)

América Móvil's presence in Brazil extends across the mobile (Claro), fixed-line voice (Embratel), broadband (Net Serviç os and Embratel) and pay-TV sectors (Net Serviç os and Embratel). It has a sizeable presence in each market. By merging these units under one banner, the company would be able to offer improved quadruple-play bundled packages to subscribers and effectively compete with rivals Oi and Vivo , who also have a presence across the four markets. It is likely the service would be reformed under the Claro brand, as is the case in other América Móvil markets in Latin America.

Anatel approved a similar request form Telefónica in August 2011, allowing the transfer of fixed-line operating licences to Vivo . Further consolidation of Telefónica and Vivo's shares resulted in Vivo Participações becoming the single company publicly traded on the Brazilian stock exchange in April 2012. The company also has operations across all four verticals, and we therefore do not see this universal presence as a barrier to América Móvil's planned merger.

The biggest risk to the transaction will be the merging of Net Serviç os and Embratel in the pay-TV segment, as the resulting unit would have a 53% share of the market, as of Q412. In February 2012 Embratel took indirect control of Net Servicos from Globo Comunicação e Participações ( Globopar), due to a 2011 ruling by Anatel which allowed companies to acquire operations even if it exceeded 50% market share. It is therefore possible Anatel will approve the full merger of América Móvil's units, as it approved the indirect acquisition in February 2012. Embratel and Net Serviç os also offer broadband services, but as their combined market share would be about 29.2% as of Q412, this would pose less of a problem than pay-TV.

Consolidation is beneficial to larger companies such as Telefónica and América Móvil, and for subscribers in the short-term, as they benefit from lower prices for packaged services. However, over the long-term we are worried that Brazil is becoming a two-horse race between these operators. Oi and smaller operators will be less competitive and this will result in limited scope for innovation over a longer time period.

This article is tagged to:
Sector: Telecommunications
Geography: Brazil

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