China Mobile ‘interested in Brazil’s bankrupt Oi’, says report

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Brazilian business magazine says China Mobile has met regulator Anatel to discuss deal over Oi

The fate of bankrupt Brazilian operator Oi has become even more confused by reports of a possible takeover by China Mobile.

Creditors of Oi, which filed for $19 billion bankruptcy protection in June 2016, are due to meet on 9 October, though the Brazilian regulator Anatel – one of the creditors – is expected to vote against a settlement.

Meanwhile the Brazilian business magazine Exame is reporting that China Mobile has set up an office in São Paulo and has held discussions with Anatel about buying Oi.

Anatel’s difficulty is that it is owed $2.94 billion by Oi and that, unlike a normal creditor, it cannot negotiate a debt-for-equity or other deal.

The Reuters news agency reported this week that Juarez Quadros, president of Anatel, wants the regulator to vote against renegotiating the debt on 9 October.

But Exame is also reporting that Quadros met representatives of China Mobile and the China Development Bank on 11 September in Brasília. Oi was the subject of the talks, said Exame, citing three unnamed sources for its information.