NII Holdings Still Seeks Tower Deal After Missing Deadline

NII Holdings Inc., the Latin American mobile-phone company that uses the Nextel brand, said it’s still working on a deal to sell wireless towers after missing a self-imposed deadline today to reach an agreement.

The company is getting close to a transaction, Chief Executive Officer Steven Shindler said today on a conference call. He declined to answer a question on how many buyers are interested in the assets, which Wells Fargo & Co. has estimated would bring in $800 million to $900 million for NII.

“I might’ve been a little overly optimistic. I shouldn’t have pointed to a specific date,” Shindler said. “The most important thing for us is to get the right deal.”

NII, based in Reston, Virginia, is selling off assets to fund network improvements in Brazil and Mexico, its two largest markets. The company reached a deal in April to sell its Peru unit to Chile’s Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones SA, and has said it is reviewing whether to part with its Argentina and Chile divisions.

NII shares dropped 6.8 percent to $6.71 at the close in New York, the biggest one-day decline since June 24. The stock is down 5.9 percent this year.

Shindler resumed the post of chief executive officer last year after the company posted losses in four out of five quarters amid declining customer spending. The company is converting to third-generation, or 3G, technology for its phone network to catch up to competitors such as America Movil SAB and Telefonica SA, which are already beginning upgrades to 4G.

NII said its second-quarter loss, leaving out the Peru business, widened to $384.9 million, or $2.23 a share, from $85.3 million, or 50 cents, a year earlier. Sales slid 11 percent to $1.26 billion.

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