NII Gains on Report of Talks to Sell Peru Unit: Washington Mover

NII Holdings Inc., which sells Nextel mobile-phone service in Latin America, gained the most in more than four years on a report that it’s in advanced talks to sell its Peru unit to Chile’s Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones SA.

Entel, as the Chilean phone company is known, would pay $500 million for the business, Peru’s El Comercio reported late yesterday, citing unnamed sources close to the transaction. Claudia Restrepo, an NII spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return phone and e-mail messages today from Bloomberg News. An Entel press official declined to comment.

NII is considering selling businesses in Peru, Chile and Argentina, as well as assets such as its wireless towers, to focus on growth in Mexico and Brazil. Peruvian service revenue fell 2.3 percent last year to $289.8 million as competition pushed customers’ monthly bills lower.

“We have roughly estimated gross proceeds of approximately $1 billion for all three markets that are being evaluated for sale,” said Chris King, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Baltimore, in a research note today. NII lost about $14 million in Peru last year, he said. He advises buying the shares.

NII, based in Reston, Virginia, surged 21 percent to $5.05 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since November 2008.

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