Ongoing Says Altice Is Best Alternative for Portugal Telecom

Ongoing Strategy Investments SGPS SA said the sale of Oi SA’s Portuguese assets to billionaire Patrick Drahi’s Altice SA is currently its best option.

“I don’t know at this time of a better alternative than the one on the table,” Rafael Mora, vice-chairman at Ongoing, said by telephone today. “I’m open to any other alternatives that will bring value to the company, but not those that will generate litigation.”

Portugal Telecom SGPS SA shareholders are scheduled to decide Jan. 12 on the purchase by Altice of Portuguese assets that were transferred to Brazil’s Oi as part of the merger between the companies. Mora, whose Ongoing holds 10 percent of Portugal Telecom, which in turn has a minority stake in Oi, said shareholders must ponder all the risks.

Oi and Portugal Telecom agreed a year ago on the combination to create a carrier with 100 million customers to compete against Telefonica SA and Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB. In July, the companies renegotiated the transaction to give Portugal Telecom a smaller stake in the combined entity after it emerged that the Lisbon-based partner was holding debt defaulted by Rioforte Investments SA.

The sale of the Portuguese assets would pave the way for Oi to buy part of Tim Participacoes SA in Brazil. Chief Executive Officer Bayard Gontijo said Dec. 15 that Oi would use proceeds from the sale to finance any bid for the wireless carrier.

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