January 27, 2017 / 9:47 PM / in a year

UPDATE 1-Pharol shuns creditor reorganization plan for Oi as Elliott eyes deal

(Adds details of proposal throughout)

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, Jan 27 (Reuters) - The largest shareholder in Oi SA will oppose any alternate reorganization plan that does not come from within the debt-laden Brazilian phone carrier, which is struggling to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

In a statement sent to Reuters on Friday, Portugal’s Pharol SGPS SA said it will only endorse alternatives to Oi’s original reorganization proposal if the carrier’s board approves changes. The statement specifically referred to a proposal made by billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp this week.

The Elliott plan for Oi involves a 9 billion real ($2.9 billion) capital injection that would give the U.S. investment firm a majority stake in the carrier, two people briefed on the plan told Reuters. Half of that amount would go to compensate Oi bondholders through a debt-for-equity swap, one of the people said.

According to the people, the plan was presented this week to Oi’s management. None of the people nor Pharol confirmed whether the Portuguese investment company had access to the Elliott plan or discussed it with other members of Oi’s board.

The Elliot proposal was reported earlier by Bloomberg News, which cited people familiar with it. The media office of Rio de Janeiro-based Oi declined to comment on Elliott’s proposal. Calls to press representatives for New York-based Elliott were not immediately answered.

Singer’s plan for Oi, which filed for Brazil’s largest ever bankruptcy protection plan in June, marks the latest episode in Oi’s rocky reorganization, which has been hampered by disagreements between creditors and shareholders over the fate of the carrier.

Common shares in Oi posted their biggest daily gain since October on the news. The stock soared 10.5 percent to 3.70 reais on Friday, while preferred shares jumped 18 percent to 3.12 reais.

Elliot is the third potential suitor for Oi that has emerged since Oi’s woes began to worsen early last year. Two groups of bondholders have since been formed to negotiate a deal with the company.

According to one of the people, Elliott proposed a capital injection that would give it at least 51 percent of Oi’s equity. The other said that stake could reach around 60 percent depending on the ratio of participation of bondholders in the planned debt-for-equity swap.

The second person said Elliott intends to invest 4.5 billion reais directly into Oi, with the remainder being used in the swap. Both people spoke under the condition of anonymity since they were confidentially briefed on the plan.

Existing shareholders could retain as much as 10 percent of the restructured company, the second person added.

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris and a group of bondholders advised by Moelis & Co presented an alternative reorganization plan to Oi in December that involved a $1.25 billion capital injection and an equity swap that would give creditors 95 percent of the company.

The other group of bondholders that could bid for Oi was formed in November by creditors including Aurelius Capital Management LP, Attestor Capital LLC and Citadel LLP.

Oi, which is seeking to restructure about 65 billion reais in total liabilities, presented its original proposal on Sept. 5. It was considered unacceptable by a large number of its bondholders. ($1 = 3.1522 Brazilian reais) (Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal, Sandra Maler and Meredith Mazzilli)

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