—– Confirmed: Televisa buys Iusacell ——

Top Mexican broadcaster Televisa will buy a 50 percent stake in mobile operator Grupo Iusacell, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing a source close to the transaction.

The transaction would total $1.6 billion and a fraction of this would go to debt repayment, while the rest would go to expand Iusacell's network, the newspaper reported.

A spokesman for Televisa could neither confirm nor deny the report. Iusacell declined to comment past Tuesday's statement that talks were underway between the two companies.

The deal would give Televisa, which already has broadcast, cable, satellite, publishing and gaming businesses, a foothold in the mobile market dominated in Mexico by mogul Carlos Slim, who is the world's richest man.

Slim owns telephone network Telmex and cell phone network America Movil and his companies are locked in a dispute with two fellow billionaires — the owners of Televisa and Iusacell — over control of Mexico's communications sector.

Televisa is led by media entrepreneur Emilio Azcarraga and Iusacell is owned by Grupo Salinas, the group headed by Ricardo Salinas which also owns Mexico's No. 2 broadcaster, TV Azteca TVAZTCACPO.MX.

Slim wants to expand into television in Mexico so his companies can offer bundled packages of video, telephone and Internet services, as he does in 16 countries where America Movil operates.

The Mexican government has so far prohibited Slim — already the biggest provider of pay television services across Latin America — to expand into media because of concerns about competition.

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