Oi Said to Hire Barclays to Sell Portugal Telecom Towers

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Oi SA, Brazil’s biggest landline phone company, is working with Barclays Plc to explore the sale of about 3,000 mobile-phone towers in Portugal, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Companies including Spain’s Abertis Infraestructuras SA and American Tower Corp., and private-equity firms including KKR & Co., are interested in the towers, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Oi may raise about 300 million euros ($384 million) from the sale, the people said.

Representatives for Abertis, American Tower, Barclays, KKR and Oi declined to comment, as did Oi’s Portuguese unit.

The towers were owned by Portugal Telecom SGPS SA, with which Oi agreed to merge last year. Oi is seeking to sell assets to shore up its finances, following similar sales by companies such as Telefonica SA and Telecom Italia SpA. Last year, Oi agreed on transactions to sell assets including towers and undersea cables, raising more than 5 billion reais ($2 billion) to replenish a dwindling cash balance.

Portugal Telecom shares fell as much as 8.1 percent and were down 4.6 percent at 1.27 euros as of 8:30 a.m. in Lisbon. It was the biggest decline among stocks on the PSI 20 index, which rose 1.4 percent. Abertis stock gained 1.9 percent to 14.46 euros in Madrid.

Cut Debt

Oi’s net debt of 46.2 billion reais at the end of June was more than four times its annual adjusted profit, making it the biggest debt burden among Brazil’s four largest phone companies.

Separately, billionaire Patrick Drahi’s Altice SA is holding talks with Oi’s shareholders as it seeks to acquire the Brazilian company’s Portuguese assets, a person with knowledge of the matter has said.

Altice has spoken to Brazilian and Portuguese stakeholders as well as Paulo Portas, Portugal’s deputy prime minister, the person said, adding that price is among topics that have been discussed. A successful bid by Altice would unravel the merger between Portugal Telecom and Oi.

Earlier this month, Oi Chief Executive Officer Zeinal Bava stepped down, potentially paving the way for a breakup of the merger.