Oi SA and Portugal Telecom (PT) have informed the Timorese government of a potential buyer for their stake in national fixed and mobile operator Timor Telecom (TT), according to news agency Lusa, as reported by Jornal de Negocios. The report cites a government source as saying that Oi and PT sent a letter to Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Pedro Lay and Finance Minister Emilia Pires, but the two firms did not disclose the name of the potential buyer. PT’s 76.14%-owned subsidiary Telecomunicacoes Publicas de Timor (TPT) holds a 54.01% stake in TT and a further 3.05% is held through PT’s wholly-owned subsidiary PT Participacoes SGPS. The Timorese government owns 20.59%, VDT Holdings has a 17.86% stake and the remaining 4.49% is held by local businessman Julio Alfaro. Earlier this month Alfaro said he would consider acquiring more shares if the Timorese government decided to take control of TT from PT.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, on 5 May 2014 the entire share capital of PT Portugal Telecom SGPS (PT Portugal) was contributed to Brazil’s Oi SA by Portugal Telecom SGPS (PT SGPS), as part of a capital increase related to the planned merger of the Brazilian and Portuguese telcos, although Oi subsequently agreed to offload PT Portugal to Altice Group for EUR7.4 billion (USD9.2 billion). In December 2014 Oi clarified that its sale of its PT Portugal operating unit to Altice did not include the Africatel holding company, TT or the debts attributed to Rio Forte Investments, and therefore these three assets must be separated from PT Portugal prior to the approved sale to Altice. As such, the stake in TT remains in legal limbo, pending the successful conclusion of the Altice takeover, whereupon it is likely to revert to the control of Oi.