BRASILIA, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Brazil’s telecommunications industry watchdog Anatel should redouble attention to carrier Oi SA, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June, the agency’s new president said on Tuesday.
The government bodies involved in Oi’s in-court reorganization should coordinate their actions to help the carrier emerge from creditor protection and renegotiation of 65.4 billion reais ($20 billion) of debt, Juarez Quadros, Anatel’s new president, said at his confirmation hearing before Congress in Brasilia.
A coordinated stance could help “avoid dissent among the different entities” dealing with the carrier’s woes, said Quadros, a former Brazilian communications minister. Senators later confirmed his nomination as head of Anatel.
His remarks suggested that the stakes are high in Brazil’s largest ever in-court reorganization. Oi, Brazil’s No. 1 fixed-line carrier, employs some 140,000 people and is the only phone company in 1,800 Brazilian towns, or about one-third of the nation’s 5,500 municipalities.
Rio de Janeiro-based Oi owes Anatel and state lenders Banco do Brasil SA, Caixa Econômica Federal SA and BNDES a combined 20 billion reais, making the government the carrier’s No. 2 biggest creditor after bondholders.
On Sept. 2, Reuters reported that Anatel as well as state banks which are Oi creditors were not openly acting together but instead coordinating actions aimed at helping Oi maintain service quality and emerge from creditor protection in an orderly manner.
Preferred shares in Oi shed 1.7 percent to 2.82 reais on Tuesday in the São Paulo Stock Exchange.
$1 = 3.2559 Brazilian reais Reporting by Leonardo Goy; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and David Gregorio