Who will buy Brazil’s Oi?

Who will buy Brazil’s Oi?

Three companies, including two that were supposedly competing to buy the mobile division of Brazil operator Oi, may now be joining forces in a purchase of the beleaguered operator’s mobile assets.

According to a report in the Spanish press, Telefonica, America Movil and Telecom Italia have begun talks to jointly purchase Oi’s mobile division and then divide the assets between them. This would effectively take Oi out of the Brazilian market and reduce the number of major operators in the country to only three.

It’s the latest in a number of rumours, involving Oi and heavy hitters as diverse as China Mobile and AT&T. Not surprisingly, details of how the break-up would be carried out and the assets shared are, at the moment, hard to come by, not least because the rumoured talks are at a very early stage.

Speculation on what will happen to Oi has of course been rife recently, with rumours being reported about a number of possible buyers, including Telefonica and Telecom Italia, now supposedly involved in the pact mentioned above, not to mention Huawei and China Mobile (whose joint involvement was suggested a while ago by the Asian press and denied by Huawei).

Oi filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2016. At the time it had some $19 billion worth of debt, a debt that has now been restructured. However, the losses haven’t stopped. A sale of the mobile division, which could net $5billion, according to some estimates, would give the operator some breathing space which, with debts for the second quarter of 2019 alone estimated at nearly $400 million, would undoubtedly be welcome. There is, however, still no clear answer to the question of who will buy Oi – or at least who will buy its mobile division.

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