Bidding war for Brazil’s Oi begins to emerge

Telecom Italia, American Movil and Telefonica have renewed a joint effort to purchase Oi’s mobile business unit after being outbid by US private equity firm Colony Capital.

Earlier this week, Colony Capital tabled a bid through its Brazilian subsidiary, Highline do Brasil. Although the financial details of the deal were not public, it exceeded the baseline price set forward by Oi (c.$2.79 billion) and the offer put forward by the trio of Brazilian rivals.

In response, Telecom Italia, American Movil’s Claro and Telefonica’s Vivo has renewed their bid, once again putting the trio in prime position. There could be more to come from this game of corporate ping pong, though it is also worth remembering there is also a Middle Eastern investment fund reportedly interested in purchasing the business unit.

For Oi, this is a perfect scenario. The firm is selling the mobile business unit to emerge from bankruptcy and refresh its focus on the fibre broadband market. Although price is not the only factor in this transaction, speed of completion is very important to Oi, a bidding war to drive up investments is a very helpful by-product.

Interestingly enough, it isn’t entirely clear what would be the best outcome for the Brazilian consumer.

On one hand, an international investor to ensure the continuation of a four-player telecoms market, while also bringing in foreign wealth could look attractive for competition. However, thanks to low ARPU and difficult network deployment conditions, you have to question whether this is a market which can organically sustain four independent telecoms operators.

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