Luxembourg-based LetterOne Holding, which owns a controlling 47.9% stake in Vimpelcom Ltd via Altimo Cooperatief, has contacted Brazilian full-service telecoms operator Oi with an investment proposal, the Rio de Janeiro-based firm has confirmed in a securities filing. LetterOne, which is ultimately controlled by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman has offered to inject up to USD4 billion into Oi, on the proviso that it merges with domestic rival TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil), which is currently 67%-owned by Telecom Italia International. The offer was submitted via Oi’s financial advisor Grupo BTG Pactual on 23 October, and stressed that LetterOne wants ‘exclusive negotiations’ regarding a tie-up between the two Brazilian firms. Oi adds that ‘the proposal will be carefully evaluated by the company, jointly with its legal and financial advisors’.
If realised, a merger between TIM Brasil and Oi would create the largest wireless operator in Brazil in terms of subscribers. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, as at 30 June 2015 the pair claimed 26.2% and 17.7% of the mobile market, respectively, and would leapfrog market leader Telefonica Brasil (Vivo, 29.1%) and Claro Brasil (25.0%) if they combined.