NII Shares Surge on Plan to Sell IPhones to Brazil Customers

Shares of NII Holdings Inc., which offers Nextel mobile-phone service in Latin America, surged after the company signed an agreement to sell Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5s and 5c in Brazil.

NII rose 24 percent to $2.98 at the close in New York, the highest price since Nov. 12. The shares are still down 54 percent in the past year as the Reston, Virginia-based company struggles to compete with larger wireless carriers America Movil SAB and Telefonica SA.

The iPhone models give NII a way to retain customers who have been tempted to leave for a carrier that offers the latest smartphones. NII is upgrading to a 3G, or third-generation, network to be able to offer a more advanced set of devices, including phones that work on Google Inc.’s Android software.

To supplement its new network, NII signed a roaming deal earlier this week with Madrid-based Telefonica, extending the coverage the smaller carrier can offer customers in Brazil and Mexico. The Apple and Telefonica agreements have helped NII recover from a low closing price of $1.93 last month, still far below its 2007 peak of $90.23.

(Updates with closing share price in second paragraph.)
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