NII Holdings Tumbles as Chile Writedown Contributes to Loss

NII Holdings Inc., the seller of Nextel mobile-phone service in Latin America, fell to the lowest in almost a decade after a fourth-quarter loss that included a writedown of its assets in Chile.

The net loss of $593 million, or $3.45 a share, included a $299 million charge for reducing the value of those assets, the Reston, Virginia-based company said in a statement today. A year earlier, NII reported fourth-quarter net income of $3.2 million, or 2 cents.

NII is considering the sale of its units in Chile, Peru and Argentina, as well as its wireless towers in Brazil and Mexico, as the company struggles against larger competitors such as America Movil SAB and Telefonica SA. NII said new networks using third-generation, or 3G, technology should help it hold on to more subscribers.

“Our financial results for the year did not meet expectations,” Chairman Steven Shindler, who replaced Chief Executive Officer Steven Dussek in December on an interim basis, said in the statement. “In 2013, we intend to improve on our execution.”

The shares fell 11 percent to $4.82 at the close in New York, the lowest since May 2, 2003. NII has declined 32 percent this year as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has increased 6.2 percent.

NII’s sales slid 8.4 percent to $1.47 billion, in line with the company’s Feb. 5 preliminary figure of about $1.5 billion. The company added about 2,000 subscribers, compared with its Feb. 5 estimate of 2,200, after a net loss of 292,000 users in Brazil as part of a plan to cut off unprofitable customers.

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