Altan wins Mexican wholesale tender as sole bidder

Mexico has awarded the tender for the country’s national wholesale mobile network to Altan.

Altan, which is a consortium with backers from China, the US and Mexico, was the sole remaining bidder for the tender after the Ministry of Communications and Transport disqualified the only other interested party.

Morgan Stanley Infrastructure holds the largest stake in Altan (33%) with the China-Mexico Fund holding 23%. Other shareholders include Mexican TV operator Megacable, local operator Axtel, and Canadian pension fund Caisse du Depot et Placement du Quebec.

The tender for the billion dollar network has met with numerous delays, most recently when the Ministry of Communications and Transport ruled out accepting a bid from another consortium (Rivada Networks and Spectrum Frontier) after it failed meet a deadline for providing a $52 million bid bond. The consortium is appealing against this decision in court.

Having already accrued $750 million in investment, Altan is aiming to extend the network to 92% of Mexico’s inhabitants over the next seven years. Mexico’s government had previously estimated that 85% coverage would require $3.5 billion, while this figure would double to bring coverage up to 95%.

Altan’s would-be rival Rivada Networks expressed its distaste at Altan’s win, with co-CEO Declan Ganley tweeting: “No surprise, Rivada’s coverage plan is significantly higher than only opened bid. People of Mexico are being given a raw deal, which is sad.”

The winning bidder will have access to high quality 700MHz spectrum as part of its 20 year public-private partnership contract. The resulting 4G network will be leased out to operators, with the model aimed at reducing the clout of market leader America Movil.

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