Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris says he is prepared to invest in Oi, the stricken Brazilian mobile operator that filed for bankruptcy protection on its USD19.2 billion debt earlier this week. Sawiris, who controls a majority stake in Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT), told Bloomberg that Oi has great potential once its debt is restructured – provided the company gets a capital increase and a strong industrial plan. He told the news agency: ‘Oi needs a shareholder with a strong telecoms background to solve their operational problems in addition to their financial ones’.
While the tycoon is only prepared to invest if he is granted exclusivity for talks, he has admitted that he would ‘welcome’ the opportunity to team up with Russia’s Mikhail Fridman, should the opportunity arise. In February this year, Fridman’s LetterOne Holding (L1 Technology) – which owns a controlling stake in VimpelCom of Russia – withdrew a proposal to help finance a merger between Oi and Telecom Italia’s TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil) unit.