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Published: Tuesday, 5/21/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Holland firm acquired by wireless giant in Mexico

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A business in Holland that provides prepaid cellular-phone service has been acquired by the largest wireless service in Latin America, which is owned by the world’s richest man.

Mexico City-based America Movil, S.A.B. de C.V., which is owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, announced Monday that its subsidiary, Tracfone Wireless Inc., had entered into a deal to purchase all assets of Start Wireless Group Inc., of 1615 Timber Wolf Dr. in Holland. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

America Movil said it expects the deal to close by the end of June, pending regulatory approval.

Start Wireless Group, which does business as Page Plus Cellular, is a mobile virtual-network operator in the United States and has 1.4 million customers. It provides pay-as-you-go and monthly prepaid plans that offer voice, messaging, and data services for wireless-phone users.

The Holland company was formed in 1993 as a pager-service company but later expanded into cellular-phone services. The company, which is owned by Abdul Yassine, a native of Lebanon, had more than 250 employees in 2009. Officials of the company could not be reached for comment.

Although it has 1.4 million customers, Start Wireless will be a small addition to America Movil, which had 262.9 million wireless subscribers as of March 31. Last year America Movil acquired another mobile virtual-network wireless provider, Simple Mobile, which had 23.2 million customers.

A mobile virtual-network operator does not own or operate wireless equipment. Instead, it buys services in bulk from carriers and resells services packages to its customers.

While America Movil owns several mobile virtual-network operating companies, it also owns fixed-line and mobile-phone businesses as well as Internet and cable-television services in 17 Latin American countries and the United States.

Since 2010, Mr. Slim has been ranked the richest person in the world by Forbes magazine.

In additional to a vast number of communications companies, Mr. Slim also owns technology, retailing, and finance companies. His net worth has been estimated at $73 billion.



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