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Sawiris says Brazil's Oi woes have put his interest 'on hold'
October 5, 2017 / 6:47 PM / in 2 months

Sawiris says Brazil's Oi woes have put his interest 'on hold'

CAPRI, Italy, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris said on Thursday he has put his interest in investing in Oi SA on hold because of infighting and a lack of decision-making at the debt-laden Brazilian mobile carrier.

Sawiris would consider an investment via Orascom TMT Holdings SAE, the carrier he controls, should creditors and shareholders of Rio de Janeiro-based Oi settle their disputes, he told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Capri, Italy.

Oi, which filed last year for Brazil’s biggest ever bankruptcy protection to restructure 65 billion reais ($20 billion) of debt, has delayed putting a creditor plan to a vote several times this year.

In December, Orascom had offered an debt-for-equity swap and a capital injection of up to $1.25 billion into Brazil’s No. 4 wireless carrier, conditioned to an agreement with creditors.

This week, Ricardo Malavazi stepped down as Oi’s chief financial officer following disagreements over a recovery plan among some of the carrier’s shareholders. That had contributed to the chances of a state intervention, said the head of Brazil’s telecommunications industry watchdog Anatel.

“I am not happy with the situation, I have put my interest on hold,” Sawiris said.

“If there is anything to be done in a reasonable way I will look at it, but right now I am disappointed by all the parties involved in this matter.”

A spokeswoman for Oi declined to comment. The carrier’s management has repeatedly said it is seeking to create a restructuring plan that ensures the company’s survival, meets customer needs and satisfies all parties involved.

Common shares in Oi were down 1.2 percent to 4.86 reais on Thursday.

Oi’s largest creditor groups reaffirmed their commitment to an alternative debt-restructuring plan this week, after pushing back against a proposal from the company’s management that called for a 8 billion-real capital injection and debt-for-equity exchange.

“In the mobile business, it’s about speed and speedy decisions,” Sawiris said. “Companies that don’t see the technology advancements and don’t do the investments at the right time, they go bust.”

$1 = 3.1335 reais Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, Writing and additional reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal in Sao Paulo, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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