NII Holdings’ impending sale of its Nextel Brazil unit has reportedly attracted the attention of some major Latin American players, including America Movil, Telecom Italia and Telefonica.
Reuters reported that the local units of these operators (respectively Claro, TIM Brasil and Vivo) were all likely to make a bid for Nextel when NII Holdings begins accepting offers for its 70% stake next month.
Existing 30% stakeholder Access Industries was also named as a possible bidder, as it may be keen to increase its holding – and if it does not, it may be forced to divest its holding if the eventual buyer wishes to obtain the entire unit.
However, Nextel’s appeal for Telefonica and TIM could be limited. NII’s unit holds valuable spectrum in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, but both potential bidders are approaching the holding limit in these states.
However, Nextel Brazil CEO Roberto Rittes noted that regulator Anatel’s upcoming increase to spectrum caps could expedite a sale by removing this restriction. He noted that no regulatory resistance to the sale is expected.
If a sale is forthcoming, it could lead to further consolidation in the market. China Telecom has expressed interest in acquiring beleaguered operator Oi, which is the fourth biggest in the country, although no concrete action has been taken.
Teleco positions Nextel as the fifth largest of the country’s seven mobile operators, with 3 million subscribers according to Reuters. It has a market share of around 1.3%, significantly behind fourth-placed Oi’s 16.5%. Vivo leads the market with a 31.9% share.