NII Holdings unveils growth initiative including LTE launches

Monday, November 4, 2013

Latin American telco NII Holdings (Nasdaq: NIHD) has launched a growth initiative dubbed Project Accelerate for 2014 and beyond, CEO Steven Shindler told a conference call with investors.

"This is not a business-as-usual approach to growth but is instead a more aggressive plan to quickly recover lost ground and put NII back on the path to regaining profitable growth," Shindler said.

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Under the plan, NII Holdings has developed more aggressive marketing campaigns and high-value service plans that are expected to be launched over the next few weeks in Mexico and Brazil, the executive said. "We're anticipating that some of our marketing investment plans will be pulled forward from 2014 into 2013 to support these efforts. This will enable us to more aggressively leverage the superior quality and speed of our 3G network," Shindler said.

The initiative also includes the launch of new smartphones. "We will be moving aggressively to offer the iconic smartphones our customers have requested.... We will be adding the latest Samsung and HTC devices to our portfolio. We expect to announce new agreements with other top handset vendors soon," the executive added.

Project Accelerate also includes the launch of LTE in select cities in certain markets in 2014. "We plan to start with a few cities in Mexico, followed by Rio de Janeiro later in the year. We believe that making these investments in LTE will help us deliver a superior customer experience and significantly improve customer perception, creating opportunities to drive additional growth," Shindler said.

Finally, the initiative will include the realignment of the company's resources and a reduction in costs. "We have begun to restructure and refocus our organization in Mexico and will be further realigning in Brazil, as well as in the rest of our organization," the executive said.

NII Holdings posted Q3 operating revenues of US$1.10bn, down 22% compared to the year-ago period, the telco said in its earnings statement.

Net loss for the period reached US$300mn, compared to a net loss of US$82.4mn a year ago.

The telco ended the quarter with a net subscriber base of 9.73mn, down from 9.84mn at end-September 2012.

NII Holdings operates in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico under the Nextel brand.