Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim said on Tuesday he has no immediate plans for further telecommunications purchases in Europe after buying into Dutch firm KPN and Telekom Austria.
Asked if he was looking to expand further in Europe after the two recent deals, Slim told Reuters: "No, no. We're not looking for nothing now. We are going to consolidate what we've got." Slim's America Movil, which is present in roughly a dozen Latin American countries, is establishing a beachhead in Europe where a combination of tough competition, regulatory pressure and recession in many markets has beaten down some company valuations to near decade lows. Unlike his expansion in Latin America, where the 72-year-old entrepreneur has purchased much bigger stakes or whole companies, he has taken a more cautious approach in Europe. Slim recently increased his stake in KPN to 27.7 percent and boosted his stake in Austria Telekom to 23 percent, his biggest foray yet into the European market. His arrival in Europe touched off a period of turbulence in the telecoms sector, with industry executives and analysts questioning if it would lead to a long-awaited consolidation in some markets like Germany or Spain.
With an empire stretching from banking to hotels to mining, the world's richest man said he remained open to opportunities. "We're always open in the world for everything... Well not everything," he said in English at an Independence Day party at the US ambassador's residence in Mexico City, laughing as party guests snapped pictures of him with their phones. "Careful, you'll fall in the water," he warned one picture taker who was backing away to get a wider angle and nearly fell into the ambassador's swimming pool.
Austria's competition watchdog said on Monday it was examining America Movil's bid to buy up to 25.9 percent of Telekom Austria and will give its decision in four weeks' time. Slim is spending over $1 billion on the stake in the Austrian telecoms firm, most of which he is buying from investor Ronny Pecik and his partner, Egyptian telecom tycoon Naguib Sawiris.