América Móvil could buy assets from troubled Brazilian telecom operator Oi if a restructuring fails and the carrier opts to sell items such as its mobile business and fiber networks, said José Felix (pictured), the president of the Mexican group in Brazil.
Oi filed for bankruptcy protection on June 20 in what is considered Brazil's largest-ever bankruptcy. The process involves some 65.4bn reais (US$20.6bn) in bonds, other financial debt and related liabilities.
Speaking to reporters at the Futurecom conference in São Paulo, Felix stressed, however, that there is currently no talks or offer on the table between América Móvil and Oi.
América Móvil's CEO Daniel Hajj had already manifested a similar position in previous assessments to investors, analysts and Brazilian media.
Asked by BNamericas what could be the main attraction of Oi for his company, Felix said that the Claro Brasil subsidiary "would be happy to receive Oi's mobile clients."
The executive also mentioned fiber networks owned by Oi in São Paulo state as an attractive asset. Both the fiber and the mobile businesses were included as potential assets for sale in the plan that Oi presented to creditors.
OI WOES DUE TO MIX OF PROBLEMS
During a panel with the CEOs of all the major Brazilian operators, together with representatives from regulator Anatel and the ICT ministry, Oi's CEO Marco Schroeder said he is optimistic the carrier will ride out its debt crisis.
Oi's dire situation was generated by a mix of "bad management, operational issues, macro-economy and regulation," said the executive.
"There are some unresolved points with financial creditors, but we'll get to that," Schroeder said, in regard to the negotiations with creditors.
Later, Schroeder told reporters that he does not believe Oi will sell any assets in Brazil.
André Borges, telecom secretary at the ministry of science, technology, innovation and communications, said Oi "should remain in the market."
Brazil's development bank BNDES is a major shareholder in Oi, which puts the government in the dubious position of being both a policy-maker and a creditor.
Together with regulator Anatel and Oi's bondholders, the ministry created a task force to monitor the company's situation. Borges did however rule out any bail out and he also dismissed rumors of the possibility that state-run telco Telebras could take over Oi's operations.
Juarez Quadros, recently elected president of Anatel, told BNamericas that an intervention of Oi cannot be ruled out due to the regulator's mandate. Besides BNDES and private sector creditors, Oi also owes billions of reais to Anatel in the form of unpaid fines and credits.