America Movil agreed to acquire market rival Nextel Brazil from its two owners for a combined sum of $905 million, a transaction which could also signal the end of former Latin America telecoms giant NII Holdings.

Nextel Brazil is currently 70 per cent owned by NII Holdings with the remainder the property of AI Brazil Holdings.

After announcing the deal NII Holdings’ board agreed a proposal to shareholders to wind-up the company following the sale of the operator, its sole remaining asset.

A majority stake in Nextel Brazil was put up for sale by NII Holdings in August 2018. Telefonica, Telecom Italia and minority partner AI Brazil were rumoured to be in the frame to buy the business, alongside America Movil.

In November, Reuters reported Telecom Italia’s board approved making a non-binding offer to acquire Nextel Brazil, however it is unclear if a firm attempt to acquire the unit was ever put forward.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval. Should it go through, America Movil will add around 3.3 million connections to its footprint in Brazil (based on GSMA Intelligence Q4 2018 figures, including cellular IoT).

Using the same metric, America Movil’s Claro brand already has more than 56 million connections in the country and is battling to be the second-largest player in the market alongside Telecom Italia’s local unit. The market is led by Telefonica’s Vivo brand with around 73 million connections.

Fall of NII
NII Holdings previously held assets in a number of markets, mostly in Latin America.

The company previously came out of bankruptcy proceedings twice and divested all of its minority stakes. In 2015 it sold Nextel Mexico to AT&T and the following year exited Argentina, selling its unit to media conglomerate Grupo Clarin.