March 26, 2020 / 12:17 PM / 3 months ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Brazilian telecom Oi reports larger-than-expected loss

(Corrects stock symbol in first paragraph)

SAO PAULO, March 26 (Reuters) - Brazil’s biggest fixed-line carrier Oi SA on Thursday reported a larger-than-expected fourth-quarter net loss.

The telecoms company, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2016, reported a quarterly net loss of 2.3 billion reais ($457 million) versus a loss of 3.3 billion reais a year earlier, it said in a securities filing.

Still, analysts expected on average a net loss of 1.1 billion reais, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was within forecast at 1.3 billion reais, compared with negative EBITDA of 4.2 billion reais in the same period a year ago.

The carrier reported a net revenue of 4.9 billion reais in the quarter ended on December 31, down 8,4% from a year ago, mostly due to the drop in revenue at landlines, partially offset by larger revenue with mobile.

Meanwhile, operational expenses fell 5.6% to 3.8 billion reais.

Oi has increased its net debt to 15.9 billion reais from 14.7 billion reais in the third-quarter and 11.8 billion reais in December 2018.

The company has been working on the sale of non-core assets, including towers and real estate property, and raise cash to emerge from bankruptcy protection. In January, Oi sold its 25% stake in Angolan carrier Unitel to state-oil company Sonangol for $1 billion.

The carrier has also recently hired financial advisors to put a value on its mobile unit, which have draw the interest of all of its competitors.

On March 11, rivals TIM Participações SA and Telefonica Brasil SA informed Oi’s advisor Bank of America of their interest in kicking off talks for a potential acquisition of all or part of Oi’s mobile division.

It is not immediately clear how the two plan to divide up the business, but market participants argue that TIM would most likely get a larger share of Oi’s mobile business.

$1 = 5.0345 reais Reporting by Gabriela Mello and Tatiana Bautzer Editing by Nick Zieminski

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