UPDATE 3-Bain, Apax join bid battle for Portugal Telecom

miércoles 12 de noviembre de 2014 11:54 GYT

(Adds PT statement on dos Santos's offer)

By Axel Bugge and Leila Abboud

LISBON/PARIS Nov 12 (Reuters) - Private equity firms Bain Capital and Apax Partners have launched a bid worth 7.075 billion euros ($8.8 billion) to buy the Portuguese operating business of Portugal Telecom from Brazil's Oi, rivalling an offer from European telecoms group Altice .

Altice, the holding company of Franco-Israeli telecoms entrepreneur Patrick Drahi, made a bid last week which it said put an enterprise value on the PT Portugal business of 7.025 billion euros.

But Oi said in a statement it has now received a similar offer from Apax and Bain for the PT Portugal assets worth 7.075 billion euros, which Oi's board would now consider.

Oi is considering selling Portugal Telecom assets to reduce its debt of over $18 billion, which would effectively unwind a protracted merger of the two companies.

That deal soured after the Rioforte holding company of the Espirito Santo banking family, ultimately a shareholder in PT, defaulted on nearly 900 million euros ($1.14 billion) of debt owed to PT. Oi said it had not been aware of the debt before the deal and the fallout resulted in a renegotiation of the merger.

Oi is expected to use the proceeds of any PT Portugal asset sale to strengthen its hand in the further consolidation of the Brazilian telecoms market.

But Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola's president, has sought to block Oi's sale of PT assets with an offer on Sunday for the Lisbon-listed holding company Portugal Telecom SGPS (PT SGPS) at 1.35 euros per share.   Continuación...