Zeinal Bava, CEO of Oi and the architect of its merger with Portugal Telecom, has stepped down, in what could be a major blow for the deal.
Oi said Bayard Gontijo, its CFO, will take over the top post until the board appoints a replacement for Bava (pictured). No timeline was given for finding a new CEO.
Separately, the company responded equivocally to a local media report that it will sell Portugal Telecom and concentrate domestically, saying “no decision has been made regarding the sale of its assets in Portugal, nor had it received any such offers”.
Bloomberg reported yesterday that France’s Altice had made a bid for the Portuguese operator, as it tries to build up a cable-and-mobile footprint across European markets.
Such a move would leave Oi free to pursue its own ambitions in Brazil’s consolidating market.
Oi’s statement also confirmed it wants to sell its stake in Africatel Holdings, although no agreement is in place at present.
Zeinal Bava was behind the merger between Portugal Telecom and Oi that was agreed in October 2013. Although the CEO of the smaller party (PT), Bava graduated to the top post in the enlarged group.
Earlier this year, the Portuguese incumbent was forced to cut its stake in the merged entity after the disastrous purchase of $1.1 billion in debt issued by Rioforte, a holding company for the struggling Espirito Santo banking group, a PT shareholder. Portugal Telecom CEO Henrique Granadeiro resigned as a result.