Brazilian conglomerate Grupo Algar has offered to buy Telecom Italia’s stake in the country’s third largest fixed line operator, Brasil Telecom, according to BNamericas quoting reports from local newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. The Italian firm holds a 38% interest in Brasil Telecom’s parent company Solpart, but wants to sell up and Grupo Algar is looking to purchase the shares, thought to be worth BRL6 billion (USD2.7 billion), by setting up a partnership deal with pension funds. Algar director Luiz Alberto Garcia confirmed his company’s interest in a market it believes is ‘ripe’ for expansion. The move is the latest attempt by Grupo Algar to increase its portfolio in Brazil: it previously aborted attempts to acquire mobile phone companies ATL in Rio de Janeiro and Tess in São Paulo state due to the high asking price. The group owns fixed line telco CTBC, which operates in Minas Gerais.
In a separate story, Brasil Telecom has announced that it has rebranded its internet access services in a bid to capture a larger share of the business market. The company, which has around 70,000 customers under its iG, iBest and BrTurbo brands, has rolled the three names up into a new brand, IG Companies, and aims to have 150,000 companies on its roster by the end of 2007. Brasil Telecom plans to target more than five million local small and medium-sized companies in its franchise areas, of which 90% do not currently use the internet as a business tool.