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Brazil Telephone Co Oi Appoints Francisco Valim As CEO

SAO PAULO -(Dow Jones)- Brazil's largest telecommunications company, Tele Norte Leste Participacoes SA (TNE, TNLP4.BR), or Oi, has appointed Francisco Valim to take over as chief executive of the group on Sept. 1, the company said in a statement. Valim takes over from Luiz Eduardo Falco, who will leave the company at the end of June. The chairman of the board of the Oi group, Jose Mauro da Mettrau Carneiro da Cunha, will be interim chief executive until Valim takes over, the company said. The appointment of a new CEO is the latest in a series of significant developments at Oi, including the purchase of a large, though minority, stake by Portugal Telecom SGPS (PT, PTC.LB), and a more recent move to simplify the group's ownership structure. Valim is currently general manager of credit-score bureau Serasa Experian, and has in the past been the chief executive of Brazilian cable TV company Net, which was bought by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's telephone empire. Falco has been in charge at Oi for 10 years, becoming the top executive some three years after privatization, and under his tenure Oi emerged as Brazil's largest phone company, with its traditional fixed-line presence in much of the north and northeast of the country. It has also added mobile telephones, with around 20% market share today, and 40% of the broadband Internet market. The new chief executive takes over as Oi moves into another phase, now in partnership with Portugal Telecom. The Portuguese operator sold its stake in Oi's main mobile phone rival, Vivo SA (VIV, VIVO4.BR) last year, and subsequently bought up a 26% stake in Oi. Meanwhile, Oi moved last month to simplify its ownership structure to make its shares more attractive and reduce operating costs. The firm plans to fold four existing group companies into one single firm, Brasil Telecom SA (BTM, BRTO4.BR), which will be renamed as Oi SA. -By Matthew Cowley, Dow Jones Newswires; +55 11 3544 7082;

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