(Adds comment from Brazilian official and analyst)
LISBON, May 5 (Reuters) - A long-expected consolidation of Brazil’s telecoms industry that is likely to involve rivals Oi and TIM has run into delays but should go ahead in 2016, a representative of Oi’s largest shareholder, Portugal Telecom SGPS, said on Tuesday.
Rafael Mora, who is a board member of both PT and Oi, said changes to the shareholder structure of Telecom Italia-controlled TIM, which are expected to be finalised at the end of June, have slowed down the process.
“There are no talks, nothing is happening right now,” he said. “The consolidation process in Brazil will not happen too soon, but it will occur next year for sure. We have no doubt,” he told reporters.
PT is a holding company that owns a 27.5 percent stake in Oi. It no longer has any telecom assets after a merger with Oi and the Brazilian company’s subsequent decision to sell the Portuguese assets to Altice.
Oi, Brazil’s most indebted phone carrier, gained financial muscle to undertake a takeover or merger with a rival after the 7.4 billion euro ($8.3 billion) sale. Telecom Italia earlier signalled that it was considering whether to buy or combine with Oi.
If Oi bids for TIM, it is expected to do so jointly with the Brazilian units of Mexico’s America Movil SAB and Spain’s Telefonica SA.
Brazil’s four mobile phone operators have sought to reduce the number of carriers to three, as costly investments squeeze profits, but a senior official in Brasilia confirmed that talks in the capital about such a deal had evaporated.
“If there were a great opportunity, I don’t think any companies would pass it up, but there are no plans for consolidation currently,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A sharp downturn in the Brazilian economy and rising borrowing costs have also cooled deal-making appetites, according to analysts who follow the telecom sector.
“It’s not easy right now to fund a deal,” said Arthur Barrionuevo, a former official at Brazilian antitrust agency Cade who is now a university professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation.
“Brazil is in a tough spot,” he said. “Since the outlook is more volatile, raising money abroad is more expensive. All that must have affected interest in a consolidation.”
1 = 0.8937 euros Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga in Lisbon; Additional reporting by Leonardo Goy in Brasilia and Luciana Bruno in Sao Paulo; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Mark Potter and Leslie Adler