Monday, February 13, 2012

Titans clash in Mexico's fight over monopolies  |

Titans clash in Mexico's fight over monopolies  |

A technological revolution is pushing Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, into a battle with other powerful interests in Mexico, creating a billionaires' version of a schoolyard spat: name-calling, attack ads, canceled contracts and even a physical shoving match.

To the wonderment of many Mexicans, companies accustomed to crushing competitors are now casting themselves as crusaders against monopoly.

In recent weeks, the corporate titans have run full-page ads accusing each other of lying, cheating and conspiring to overcharge customers, allegations often bolstered by official studies finding that Mexicans pay far more than they should for many services because major businesses lack strong competitors.

The Mexican government has responded to the seemingly dilemma by proposing that all restrictions on foreign investment in the telecommunications sector be lifted, and offering companies help in installing antennas and fiber optics lines, while auctioning off radio spectrum.

But many fear that Slim's economic power would allow him to dominate those auctions, allowing him to dominate television as well as telecommunications.

"Some people say that if you give him (Slim) television, you might as well give him the keys to all the army bases and the national palace, so he can manage the whole country," said Piedras.

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