Oi Brasil, the cash-strapped Brazilian operator, has now seen a significant influx of revenue after completing the sale of selected tower infrastructure to Empreendimentos e Participacoes, an affiliate of comms infrastructure group Highline.
The deal was originally announced in August of last year, at which time Highline reportedly owned more than 3,800 tower sites across Brazil. This deal involves another 8,000 telecom towers.
The Data Centre Dynamics website says that a preliminary purchase price of R$905.1 million ($187.2 million) has been paid, with the remainder set to be paid up until 2026, though this depends on the level of infrastructure usage. The sale could net Oi R$1.7 billion (US$350 million) in total.
This influx of cash will no doubt be welcomed by Oi. Many people had thought the worst was over after debts of over US$19 billion led to the company being put in bankruptcy protection in 2016; it then exited bankruptcy protection last December.
However, we reported in February that Oi and its subsidiaries Portugal Telecom International Finance and Oi Brasil Holdings Cooperatief had apparently asked a business court in Rio de Janeiro for "urgent precautionary protection" to suspend some payments. Then regulator Anatel set up a working group to monitor the Oi Group.
In April, Oi was granted authorisation to obtain a loan of US$275 million from its current creditors. Attempts to dispose of its stake in its fibre firm V.tal fell foul of an Anatel ruling; however, according to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate, in late June Oi was granted permission to sell its legacy copper networks to V.tal.
How or whether this tower sale will ease Oi’s financial woes is not clear. Either way, it’s been an unexpectedly difficult 2023 for the company so far.