French group Altice, the parent company of cable operator Numericable
Lisbon - AFP
French group Altice, the parent company of cable operator Numericable, has made a firm offer of 7.03 billion euros ($8.8 million) to Brazilian operator Oi to acquire Portugal Telecom (PT), the company announced Monday.
Altice said the "binding, fully financed" offer was for all activities "outside of Africa" and did not include the debt of Rioforte, the company in the Espirito Santo banking group that is on the brink of collapse.
The deal also excludes Oi treasury shares and Portugal Telecom financing vehicles, the statement said.
"If this offer is accepted, the transaction net of financial debt and other purchase price adjustments would be financed by new debt and existing cash from Altice," it said.
The offer comes during a wave of consolidation in Europe's telecoms industry as companies battle with increased competition from new players, squeezed margins and large piles of debt.
The merger between Portugal Telecom and Oi was clouded when the powerful Espirito Santo family's empire crumbled under huge debts this summer, its holding company Rioforte owing PT almost 900 million euros.
Oi forced its Portuguese partner to sign a new merger agreement after the collapse, cutting its share in the new combined company to around a quarter from the 38 percent originally agreed.
A Luxembourg court last month effectively decided that Rioforte, the main holding company of the Santo's non-financial assets, would be liquidated, making it less likely the loan would be repaid.
Portugal Telecom's net profit surged 46.6 percent last year to 331 million euros after it hived off its participation in a Macau company.
The British investment fund Apax Partners as well as the Spanish and British telecoms firms Telefonica and Vodafone were also interested in Portugal Telecom.