Apax and Bain Capital are both weighing bids for Portugal Telecom, potentially upping the ante for French firm Altice which earlier this month made an offer for the Portuguese incumbent, according to Financial Times.
Portugal Telecom is supposedly merging with Brazil’s Oi, a significant fixed player and the country’s fourth largest mobile operator. However, that deal was thrown into doubt by the resignation of Zeinal Bava, the CEO of Oi and architect of the deal with Portugal Telecom.
Oi was equivocal following reports that it was willing to sell Portugal Telecom and concentrate domestically, saying “no decision has been made regarding the sale of assets in Portugal, nor had it received any such offers”.
Oi has said non-core assets including cell towers, real estate and its interest in Africatel unit are available for sale.
A sale of Portugal Telecom, which could raise up to €7 billion, would enable Oi to pay down debt and free it up to participate in ongoing consolidation in the Brazilian market.
The FT report quoted people familiar with the situation who said any private equity bid would need a significant equity component, as well as debt.
Market volatility in Europe would mean private equity firms having to tap the US for backing, which could add to the complexity of putting together a bid, they said.