11 de noviembre de 2014 / 17:19 / en 3 años

UPDATE 1-Telecom Italia board may discuss Brazil options next week-sources

* Board may ask CEO to consider M&A move in Brazil - sources

* Among Telecom options possible tie-up with Oi - source

* Sale of its Brazilian mobile phone towers seen soon

* Meeting comes as Angola tycoon plans bid for Oi owner (Adds details, context, source on Brazilian mobile towers sale)

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN, Nov 11 (Reuters) - The board of Telecom Italia could meet as early as next week to discuss options for its business in Brazil, two sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday, as consolidation talk in the Latin American market heats up.

Telecom Italia, which is selling assets including mobile phone towers in Brazil to cut debt and fund investments, is seeking to strengthen its majority-owned Brazilian unit TIM Participacoes, but has not ruled out selling it at the right price.

Telecom Italia lost out to Telefonica in a bidding war for Brazilian broadband company GVT this summer, leaving TIM Brasil in a weaker position than its rivals and making it a possible takeover target.

In August, Brazilian telecoms operator Grupo Oi hired a bank to advise on a TIM buyout plan, but this week Telecom Italia CEO Marco Patuano said he was ready to explore the possibility of buying Oi.

Now investors are keen to hear more from Telecom Italia about its plans for Brazil, a market that delivers one third of the Italian group’s revenues and helps it offset declining earnings in its main recession-hit Italian market.

One possible option could be a tie-up with Brazil’s third-largest operator Oi, one of the sources said.

The sources said the board could give Telecom Italia’s management a mandate to carry out a review of its options, although any operation would take time and it is not certain that it would be successful.

Telecom Italia has said it expects to sell its Brazilian mobile phone towers by the end of 2014, and one of the sources said on Tuesday talks were in the final stages and American Tower was the frontrunner.

Telecom Italia declined to comment.

Consolidation speculation in Brazil got into another twist this week after Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos announced plans to take control of Lisbon-listed Portugal Telecom , which owns 25.7 percent of Oi.

Oi has rejected dos Santos’ offer saying it would prevent it from selling its Portuguese business, PT Portugal, a step analysts say is necessary to raise funds for a possible TIM offer. (Additional reporting by Pamela Barbaglia in London and Leila Abboud in Paris, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Louise Heavens)

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