Portugal Telecom receives Altice counter-offer

NOS Telecom investor Isabel dos Santos on Friday launched a €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) bid to acquire Portugal Telecom SGPS, a holding company that holds a minority stake in Brazilian operator Oi that was created when Portugal Telecom merged its local business with Oi.

The offer was made through dos Santos' Portuguese holding company Terra Peregrin, Reuters revealed, and is being viewed as an attempt to derail a €7 billion offer by Altice to buy the Portuguese assets of Oi, Brazil's largest landline carrier that also controls Portugal Telecom's domestic operations.

Terra Peregrin says its aim is to keep Portugal Telecom in Portuguese hands. A similar motive was cited in reports last week claiming NOS was preparing to counter Altice's offer.

The moves come in the wake of tensions over the proposed merger between Brazil's Oi and Portugal Telecom.

In July the Rioforte holding company of the Espirito Santo banking family defaulted on €900 million of debt owed to Portugal Telecom--a debt Oi said it had been unaware of prior to the merger. As a result, Portugal Telecom's shareholding in Oi dropped to 25.6 per cent from 38 per cent.

It is unclear whether the latest bid will supersede Altice's offer.

In the meantime the Portuguese Securities Markets Commission has ordered the suspension of trading in Portugal Telecom's shares, giving all interested parties time to consider their next moves.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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Article updated Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. ET to clarify the nature of the new bid for Portugal Telecom by Isabel dos Santos.