UPDATE 1-Brazil's Grupo Oi CEO Zeinal Bava resigns
(Adds analyst comment, background)
RIO DE JANEIRO Oct 7 (Reuters) - Brazilian telephone and wireless carrier Grupo Oi SA said its Chief Executive Officer Zeinal Bava had resigned from the company with immediate effect on Tuesday, potentially paving the way for a sale of the company's Portuguese assets.
Oi is in the process of selling non-core assets to pay down its debt and allow it to better jostle for position in Brazil where it has fallen behind other cellphone carriers.
Bava will be temporarily replaced by Chief Financial Officer Bayard Gontijo, who will take up the CEO role while carrying on as CFO and head of investor relations. The company gave no details about the reason for Bava's departure.
Reuters reported on Monday, citing a source, that billionaire Patrick Drahi's telecoms firm Altice SA was in talks to acquire Oi's Portuguese assets, which became part of Oi through a merger with Portugal Telecom SGPS SA.
Earlier on Tuesday, and before news of Bava's departure, Oi said in a statement that no decision had yet been made on the selling of these Portuguese assets.
But analysts think Bava's exit might change this.
"Bava was a huge force in this merger," said Ari Lopes, analyst at telecommunications consultancy Ovum.
"The thing to watch now is who will replace him." If the new CEO is not a previous Portugal Telecom executive, "it could pave the way for this merger to be undone," she added. Continuación...