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NII Holdings completes sale of Nextel to Grupo Clarín

Bnamericas Published: Friday, January 29, 2016

NII Holdings has completed the sale of its Nextel unit to Argentine media group Grupo Clarín.

Clarín announced in September that it had sealed an agreement with NII to acquire a 49% minority stake in Nextel for US$178mn with an option to acquire the remaining 51%.

At the time, then-telecoms regulator Aftic declared Clarin's proposal illegal saying it required prior approval from the regulator.

At the time market observers said the watchdog's move was politically motivated and was related to former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's ongoing feud with Clarín.

In December, when new President Mauricio Macri took office he removed the Kirchner-appointed heads of the two ICT regulators Aftic and Afsca and merged the two watchdogs into one to form a single unit called Enacom.

With the arrival of Macri, many speculated that Clarin's acquisition of Nextel would go ahead, marking its entrance in the mobile telecoms market and becoming the fourth player.

Clarín will be keen to press the government to re-auction the 3G and 4G spectrum left over from the auction at the end of 2014.

The spectrum won by local operator Arlink was recovered by the government after Arlink failed to pay for it by the deadline. The government then reassigned the spectrum to state satellite operator Arsat.

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