UPDATE 6-Brazil telecom battle heats up as Oi tries to buy, split TIM
(Adds America Movil declines to comment)
By Luciana Bruno and Leila Abboud
RIO DE JANEIRO/PARIS Aug 27 (Reuters) - Brazil's Grupo Oi SA unveiled plans on Wednesday to take over Telecom Italia's local mobile unit, in a move sources said was aimed at breaking up the country's second-biggest wireless carrier and upstaging merger bids by foreign rivals.
Oi said it hired Brazilian investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual SA to explore alternatives to acquire Telecom Italia SpA's 67 percent stake in TIM Participações SA , the country's second biggest wireless carrier.
Oi's plan is to bring in Mexico's America Movil SAB de CV and Spain's Telefonica SA in a deal to split TIM three ways, easing the financial and regulatory burdens of consolidation, according to two sources who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the deal.
The move adds a new twist to the bidding war for Vivendi SA's Brazilian broadband unit GVT, which both Telecom Italia and Spain's Telefonica SA are pursuing to bolster their mobile businesses in the country.
Telecom Italia said in a statement that it knew nothing about the move, was not involved in the plans, and saw TIM as a "strategic asset."
America Movil declined to comment.
When asked last month if he would be interested in TIM assets, America Movil's billionaire owner, Carlos Slim, told Reuters: "Let's not speculate about possibilities. I said before that America Movil's priority is organic growth. But if there are opportunities or circumstances to consolidate something that's good for the development of the company, like any other company, it does it." Continuación...