By Leila Abboud
(StartName) – Billionaire Patrick Drahi’s cable and telecoms company Altice SA is looking to acquire the Portuguese assets of Brazilian carrier Oi SA, a source familiar with the matter told StartName.
“Talks started a few weeks ago and are relatively advanced,” the source said.
Facing growing competition in the Brazilian market from foreign rivals, Oi announced plans in October 2013 to merge with Portugal Telecom SGPS SA.
Portugal Telecom has already transferred its local assets to Oi and retains a minority stake in the enlarged carrier, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing a source familiar with the matter.
Altice is trying to reach an agreement over the Portuguese assets within weeks, Bloomberg said.
Portugal Telecom and Oi executives declined to comment.
Altice has been looking for acquisitions to increase its presence in Europe. In April, Altice-controlled French cable firm Numericable Group SA agreed to buy France’s second largest mobile operator SFR from Vivendi SA.
Drahi said at an investor conference in September that his group’s strategy was to look at acquisition targets in countries where it was already present, such as Portugal and Belgium.
Portugal Telecom’s U.S.-listed shares were up 2 percent at $2.04 in late afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Up to Friday’s close, the stock had fallen about 54 percent this year.
(Additional reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bangalore, Brad Haynes in Sao Paolo and Sérgio Gonçalves in Lisbon; Editing by Kirti Pandey)