October 29, 2019 / 4:47 PM / 8 months ago

CORRECTED-Brazil carrier TIM has 'duty' to consider acquiring Oi's assets -CEO

(In penultimate paragraph, changes to second half from second quarter)

By Gabriela Mello

SAO PAULO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Brazilian wireless carrier TIM Participações will consider acquiring assets of its struggling rival Oi SA if they are put up for sale, TIM Chief Executive Officer Pietro Labriola said on Tuesday.

“Being the CEO of a publicly traded carrier, I have the duty to check whether or not it creates value to my shareholders once frequencies or backhauls (infrastructure networks) are made available,” Labriola told reporters on the sidelines of Futurecom, a major telecoms event in Sao Paulo.

It was the clearest public indication yet that TIM, which is owned by Italy’s Telecom Italia SpA , is considering a deal.

In September, Reuters reported that Oi was in talks with Italy’s Telecom Italia to sell its mobile unit and avoid insolvency.

Tim is currently Brazil’s third-largest wireless carrier, and buying Oi’s mobile operation would allow it to gain vital market share and frequencies ownership, expanding its coverage.

Spain’s Telefonica SA and Mexico’s America Movil , through local subsidiary Claro, are also interested, Reuters has reported.

Oi Chief Operating Officer Rodrigo Abreu has said the carrier would consider selling its mobile operation if it gets attractive offers.

Separately, Labriola said it is too early to speculate on the rules for Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction, as the local regulator, Anatel, is still conducting tests on interference with other services. Bidding was expected to take place in March 2020, but the agency now plans to postpone it to the second half of next year.

“It is problematic if it happens tomorrow with rules that do not benefit the industry or the country... I would be happier if it happens later but with the right rules that guarantee our investment’s return,” Labriola said. (Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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