(Updates with more details, comment)
By Sergio Goncalves
LISBON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - The owner of Portuguese telecoms firm NOS said it was “ready to be part of a solution” to keep Portugal Telecom assets in Portuguese hands, following a 7 billion euro ($8.7 billion) bid by Altice earlier this week.
Zopt, the controlling shareholder in Portugal’s second-largest telecommunications operator NOS, is owned by local conglomerate Sonae and Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s president.
Zopt said in a brief statement on Wednesday it was “ready to be part of a solution that, in open collaboration with the involved parties, ensures the necessary commitment of all interested parties and defends the national interest”.
The statement came a few days after Altice, controlled by Franco-Israeli billionaire telecoms entrepreneur Patrick Drahi, offered to buy the Portuguese operations of Brazil’s Oi , which controls Portugal Telecom’s assets after a merger.
Shares in Portugal Telecom were up 4.18 percent at 1.2470 euros, while NOS shares were 1.1 percent higher at 4.6180 euros.
A source close to Zopt said NOS could offer Oi “the best financial conditions” due to potential synergies and that it was ready to work with Portuguese regulators to ensure competition in the market.
NOS competes head on with Portugal Telecom in all areas of the market in Portugal.
Analysts said the bid could increase the value of PT assets for Oi but were cautious about whether it would go ahead due to concerns about competition.
“This comes out of the blue. From the point of view of asset valuation, it’s another rival showing up, and Oi could benefit from this bid,” said Artur Amaro, an analyst at Caixa BI.
“But from the regulatory point of view, this may be complicated. There would be a client overlap in all business areas.”
Oi has said it may sell its Portuguese assets in order to pay down mounting debts.
Its merger with PT soured this summer after the Rioforte holding company of the Espirito Santo banking family defaulted on nearly 900 million euros of debt owed to PT, a debt which Oi said it had not been aware of before their merger.
As a result PT’s shareholding in Oi was sharply reduced in a revision of the merger terms, leaving PT with only 25.6 percent of Oi instead of the 38 percent previously agreed. It also led to the resignation last month of Zeinal Bava, the chief executive of the new company and former chief executive of PT.
Sonae tried to buy Portugal Telecom for over 11 billion euros in 2007, but its bid was turned down.
Media reports have also said private equity groups including Apax Partners LLP and Bain Capital have been planning to bid around 7 billion euros for Portugal Telecom assets from Oi. (1 US dollar = 0.8015 euro) (Reporting By Sergio Goncalves and Axel Bugge, editing by Andrei Khalip and Jane Baird)