Report: Oi hires Barclays to assess sale of Portugal Telecom towers

Brazilian operator Oi has reportedly selected Barclays as its adviser on the possible sale of up to 3,000 mobile phone towers in Portugal that previously belonged to Portugal Telecom (PT), which is in the process of merging with Oi.

Quoting unnamed sources, Bloomberg said Oi could raise up to €300 million ($384 million) from the sale. Abertis Infraestructuras of Spain, American Tower, and private equity firms including KKR are reported to be interested in the assets.

This latest speculation follows reports that Altice, the telecoms and cable holding company owned by billionaire Patrick Drahi, is in talks with Oi shareholders on a possible acquisition of Portugal Telecom.

Earlier this week, Oi said its adviser Banco BTG Pactual had been contacted by several parties, including Altice, for a possible purchase of Portugal Telecom's operations, according to Reuters.

As things stand no decision has been made to sell the assets and no offers have been received. Altice is reported to be keen to enter into exclusive talks with Oi and is said to be confident it can make rapid progress towards a deal, which could value the Portuguese business at between €6 billion and €6.5 billion.

Last week, meanwhile, the acting CEO of Oi rebutted suggestions the Brazilian company will unwind its merger with Portugal Telecom, but told Reuters that it may consider selling some Portuguese assets acquired through the merger to reduce debt.

Bayard Gontijo, who took over as CEO of Oi following the resignation of Zeinal Bava, said only non-core assets would be considered for sale, such as mobile phone towers, property, and its Africatel unit, which is valued at around 4 billion reais (€1.3 billion/$1.7 billion).

Altice has not commented directly on the reports of its interest in the PT assets, but noted in a statement emailed to FierceWireless:Europe last week that as a long-term investor, Altice is looking carefully all opportunities in every countries where the group is present. "Portugal is one of them since the acquisition of Cabovisao (2012) and ONI (2013)," the company added.

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

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