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Spain's Telefonica Buys Latin American Assests of US-based BellSouth - 2004-03-08

Spain's telecommunications giant Telefonica has purchased the Latin American assets of U.S.-based BellSouth to become the leading mobile phone company in Latin America.

The $5.85 billion cash and assumed debt deal will give Telefonica another 10.5 million subscribers in 10 nations.

BellSouth's holdings span the continent from Guatemala to Chile, with the main units in Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina.

The sale was made public Monday, and analysts say it allows BellSouth to better focus on the rapidly changing U.S. domestic market.

The deal still needs government approval and is expected to be completed by the second half of this year.