UPDATE 3-Brazil's Oi open to all options as telecom consolidation looms
(Recasts with Oi CEO remarks, background, share performance throughout)
By Luciana Bruno, Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Danilo Masoni
RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO/MILAN Jan 23 (Reuters) - Oi SA , Brazil's most indebted phone carrier, is open to all options in a potential process of industry consolidation as long as the transaction helps create value for shareholders, Chief Executive Officer Bayard Gontijo said on Friday.
Rio de Janeiro-based Oi gained financial muscle to undertake a takeover or merge with a rival after shareholders in a Portugal-based subsidiary approved the subsidiary's sale on Thursday. Oi has no plans to raise funding for any deal, which could be paid for in cash or in any other form, Gontijo added.
Asked whether Oi would prefer being the buyer or the target, Gontijo noted "Oi has no prejudices about the structure of a deal. It's too early to discuss whether we'd be in control of anything and we still need to see how conditions for a deal evolve."
This suggests a shift in Oi's stance as Gontijo previously stressed the company wanted to lead consolidation in Brazil's telecommunications market. He made the remarks the day an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters an Oi-led group could bid for rival TIM Participações SA soon.
However, management at Telecom Italia SpA, TIM's controlling shareholder, plans to meet Brazilian government officials next week to put out feelers before deciding whether to turn the tables and make their own bid for Oi, another two sources with knowledge of that plan told Reuters.
According to one of these sources, Telecom Italia CEO Marco Patuano will seek assurance from Brazilian Communications Minister Ricardo Berzoini that the government would not oppose a possible bid for Oi. The meeting could happen next Thursday, said the source.
Telecom Italia has already signaled it is considering whether to buy or combine with Oi. Continuación...