Spain's Telefonica stepped up its attempts to become a global player by unveiling that it plans to buy out four Latin American affiliates late last week.
The Spanish giant is offering a premium of 40% over the average market price during the last five trading days to buy the remaining shares of Brazilian telcos Telesp and Telesudeste Celular, Telefonica de Argentina and Telefonica del Peru. The action will be made possible by a euros21bn capital increase expected to be approved at a shareholders' meeting on February 4.
The plans, unveiled by Telefonica chairman Juan Villalonga in Madrid, catapulted Telefonica shares by a reported 6% on the Spanish stock exchange by day's end and had a similar effect in Argentina, Brazil and Peru.
The move followed last week's purchase by Telefonica offshoot Telefonica Media of a 30% stake in Argentinean production outfit Patagonik Film Group, marking Telefonica's second move into production. Telfonica Media also recently upped its stake in Madrid production house Lolafilms from 51% to 70%.
Telefonica Media, headed by Jose Antonio Rios, joined Buena Vista International/Disney and Artear/The Clarin Group as an equal 30% shareholder in Patagonik, thus placing itself squarely among the heavyweight international media players and content providers in Argentina.
The expansion forms part of an ongoing restructuring of Telefonica. Telefonica Internacional (TISA) is expected to be dissolved in favour of structuring management around the company's subsidiaries which include Media, Terra (internet), Yellow Pages and, launched this week, Mobiles, DataCorp and B2B. Echoing the AOL/Time Warner deal, the internet provides the obvious convergence point between Telefonica's telecom and media interests, and the motivation for its expansion into content creation.