Brazil’s Oi sells stake in Angolan operator

Brazil’s Oi sells stake in Angolan operator

There’s been an interesting development in Angola, where oil and telecoms are two components of a new sale involving troubled Brazilian carrier Oi.

It has been reported that Oi has sold its 25 percent stake in Unitel, the leading operator in Angola, to Sonangol, the group that oversees petroleum and natural gas production in Angola, for one billion dollars. The state-owned firm already owned 25 percent, so now has a 50 percent share.

The remaining shares belong to two other companies, Geni and Vidatel. Vidatel is controlled by Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos, who is under investigation for alleged financial irregularities at the moment, and many of her assets have been frozen.

To complicate matters slightly, as part of the deal Sonangol will take on Oi’s 40 percent stake in Angolan corporate-focused broadband operator Multitel, making it the largest shareholder in Multitel as well as Unitel.

According to Reuters, Oi, which is in bankruptcy protection, is to receive just under $700 million upfront. Sonangol has previously paid $60.9 million; $240 million is to be handed over in guaranteed payments by July 2020. What this means for Oi, whose financial troubles we have been reporting in these pages for a while, is unclear.

The sale of Oi’s mobile division and other core operations was part of the plan to guarantee the survival of its fixed-line business, to support which it reportedly hopes to raise $2.4 billion by selling its mobile operation, which, not long ago could boast some 35 million customers. Oi filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2016 to restructure debts estimated at around $15.7 billion.