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Oi keen to gain ground in mobile despite debt

Brazilian operator Oi has stated that it may sell shares in order to raise money for further acquisitions should the need arise.

The operator’s merger with Portugal Telecom is underway, and will likely conclude next year.

Chief executive Zeinal Bava stated that a sell-off of shares could help to strengthen the operator’s mobile standing by contributing towards future deals or reducing its debt. Following the merger with Portugal Telecom, the group’s debt will be roughly 3.2 times its core annual profit.

Oi leads the fixed-line market in Brazil but it only holds fourth place in the country’s mobile sector, so is looking to boost its presence. To this end, there is speculation among analysts that it may acquire part of TIM Brasil, which is owned by Telecom Italia.

Brazilian market leader Telefonica is the largest shareholder in Telecom Italia, and is reportedly interested in selling TIM to generate cash. However, it would be unable to sell the entire unit to any of Brazil’s leading operators due to antitrust legislation.

“We will continue to monitor what happens in Brazil,” Bava said. “We have the ability to look at acquisitions if we want to, but right now our focus is to simplify our corporate structure by finalising the merger. Once we do that we can look at other things.”


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