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Brazil Telco Oi To Sell $7.2 Billion In New Common, Preferred Shares

RIO DE JANEIRO -(Dow Jones)- Brazilian telecommunications company Tele Norte Leste Participacoes (TNE, TNLP4.BR), or Oi, plans to sell up to 12 billion Brazilian reals ($7.2 billion) worth of new shares in a capital increase that will fund the company's international expansion plans and pay down debt. In a filing with local stock regulators late Friday, Oi said that it would issue up to 126 million new common shares priced at BRL38.55 per share. The company will also issue up to 252 million new preferred shares at BRL28.27 per share. The capital increase was previously announced on July 28. Oi, Brazil's largest telecommunications company, said that controlling shareholder Telemar Participacoes would buy a minimum of BRL1.36 billion worth of shares and possibly as much as BRL2.25 billion, depending on the number of shares purchased by minority shareholders. Minority shareholders can accompany the offer, Oi said. The capital increase was designed by Oi, controlling shareholders and strategic partner Portugal Telecom SGPS S.A. with an eye toward developing a Portuguese-Brazilian telecommunications company with global reach, Oi said. The share sale should also help Oi compete on better footing against heavyweights such as America Movil (AMX), Telecom Italia (TI) and Spain's Telefonica SA (TEF), which have increased their presence in the region. Latin America's growth rates, especially in mobile phone use, have outpaced more mature markets such as Europe and the U.S. and attracted intense interest from global telecoms looking to expand and counter declining revenues at home. In January, Portugal Telecom finalized a BRL8.32 billion deal to take at least a 22.38% stake in Oi and a 12.1% stake in holding company Telemar Participacoes. Oi will also take up to a 10% stake in Portugal Telecom as part of the deal. Oi's deal with Portugal Telecom was linked to a separate accord between Portugal Telecom and Telefonica. In that deal, Portugal Telecom sold its stake in mobile operator Vivo (VIV) to Telefonica for EUR7.5 billion. Oi is the main fixed-line phone operator in most areas outside Sao Paulo state. In addition, it controls about 18% of the cell phone market and about 43% of the broadband Internet market. The company's shares closed 1.5% higher at BRL36.06 in trading on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange. -By Jeff Fick, Dow Jones Newswires; 55-21-3288-5011;

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