Oi settles Africa spat, as restructure talk rumbles on - Mobile World Live

Oi settles Africa spat, as restructure talk rumbles on

17 JUN 2016

Brazilian operator Oi settled a dispute surrounding its operations in Africa, as questions over its corporate structure continued at home.

Oi also said that an agreement had been reached in a case involving several of its subsidiaries (PT Participacoes, Africatel and Africatel Holdings) and Samba Luxco, an affiliate of Helios Investors.

The issue concerned an alleged breach of the Africatel Holdings shareholders’ agreement – the company is 75 per cent owned by Oi companies and 25 per cent by Samba Luxco. Africatel has stakes in a number of operators in Africa.

Under the terms of the agreement, Samba will cut its holding to 14 per cent, and in return Africatel will transfer its 34 per cent stake in Mobile Telecommunications Limited of Namibia to Samba.

Oi gained its holdings in Africa through its earlier purchase of Portugal Telecom, retaining them even after the Portuguese operation was sold to Altice. It has previously been linked with a disposal of these assets, although it has not come to fruition.

At home, Oi has been in discussions about restructuring its debt, although it noted that no deal is in place. But there have been questions about the procedure following the recent resignation of Bayard Gontijo, Oi’s CEO; he has been replaced by Marco Schroeder, Oi’s Financial Administrative Officer, who also continues with his previous responsibilities.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the former CEO was under “severe pressure” from shareholders who have been resisting plans to convert debt to equity, which would see a large chunk of the company handed over to its current bondholders. He is believed to have thought the creditors’ were making reasonable demands, while existing shareholders oppose significant dilution of their stakes.

Oi this week said it had not been contacted by Egyptian investor Naguib Sawiris and his Global Telecom business (formerly Orascom), following press reports. Sawiris has previously been linked with bids for Telecom Italia (more than once) and looked at other opportunities in Brazil.


Steve Costello

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