Big name operators including Telefonica, Telecom Italia and America Movil were tipped to be among the parties interested in acquiring NII Holdings’ Nextel Brazil business.
The operators’ local units (Vivo, TIM Brasil and Claro, respectively) were named alongside Access Industries (which already holds a 30 per cent stake) as likely bidders for the operator by a Reuters source. NII Holdings expects to receive offers next month, the source said.
A sale could trigger consolidation in the Brazilian market: troubled operator Oi, the country’s fourth largest, was previously linked to a takeover from China Telecom, although a sale is yet to materialise.
GSMA Intelligence estimated Nextel Brazil ranked as the fifth-largest of seven operators in the country, with 3.3 million connections at end-Q2. The company significantly trails its four larger rivals, with Telefonica leading the market with an estimated 75.3 million connections.
In an earnings call this week, NII Holdings CFO Daniel Freiman confirmed the unit was up for sale, while Nextel Brazil CEO Roberto Rittes said an expected increase in spectrum caps by regulator Anatel would also speed up a sale. Rittes does not expect regulatory opposition to the transaction, though Reuters noted a sale to Telefonica or TIM could be reliant on the changes to spectrum caps.
Nextel Brazil’s value lies in its spectrum assets in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, but Telefonica and TIM are already nearing current limits in both states.