Vodafone unlikely to buy TIM Brasil: Oi CEO

CIOL Bureau
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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL: Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator by revenue, is unlikely to bid for Brazilian wireless carrier TIM Participacoes as it has become harder for newcomers to enter Latin America's largest telecom market, a top industry executive said on Thursday.


Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that UK.-based Vodafone could buy a controlling stake in TIM Brasil, as the Brazilian unit of Telecom Italia is known. Currently, there are four wireless carriers in Brazil where almost 80 percent of its 190 million people own a mobile phone.

TIM Brasil, Brazil's third largest cell phone operator, has become "strategically isolated" following the acquisition of market leader Vivo by Spain's Telefonica and the recent purchase of a stake in Oi by Portugal Telecom SGPS SA, said Oi chief executive Eduardo Falco.

"Saying that an English company will enter Brazil with the help of an Italian (company) ... They compete fiercely, it wouldn't be that easy," Falco told reporters in Rio de Janeiro.


Telecommunications has been one of the most dynamic industries in fast-growing Brazil's economy over the past year, as a result of a resilient job market and growing family income. The bigger groups are gradually buying out smaller rivals to integrate fixed-line and mobile divisions and offer more products like pay-TV and broadband Internet to customers.

Oi, Brazil's biggest phone group, is the product of a government-sponsored merger of two rival phone companies early last year to create a Brazilian telecommunications company able to compete with foreign rivals, including Telefonica and Carlos Slim's America Movil.

Oi shares jumped 3 percent to 25.65 reais on Thursday.