Brazilian phone carrier Oi suffers two setbacks in debt restructuring

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian phone carrier Oi SA faced two setbacks from the government on Monday in its efforts to pull off the country’s biggest-ever in-court debt restructuring.

Brazilian telecoms regulator Anatel rejected the company’s request to swap billions of reais in regulatory fines for new investments.

Anatel said in a statement that the “unsatisfactory” progress of Oi’s reorganization, now in its 16th month, raised doubts about the company’s ability to honor investment commitments resulting from a fine-for-investment swap.

Later on Monday, the president of Brazilian national development bank BNDES, Paulo Rabello de Castro, said Oi’s restructuring plan was insufficient. The company owes BNDES 3.3 billion reais ($1 billion).

“I cannot even assess what has been presented. Only in Brazil can this (Oi’s proposal) be called a plan. I don’t think we have a plan,” Rabello de Castro said at a pulp and paper industry event in Sao Paulo.

He said the bank was prepared to take a “rational economic” stance to help Oi recover from bankruptcy, but gave no details.

The judge overseeing the phone carrier’s bankruptcy protection case agreed again to postpone a creditors’ assembly that was originally scheduled for Monday until Nov. 10, the company said in a securities filing.

The judge had already postponed the meeting until Nov. 6.

In a second securities filing, Oi informed shareholders it was in talks with individual creditors who are not members of the steering committees of international bondholders on a potential restructuring by means of a capital increase.

At an Oct. 19, meeting no agreement was reached, Oi said, adding that negotiations may continue in the future but there was no assurance that they will result in a deal.

The proposal discussed was aimed at seeking approval for a cash capital increase of more than 3.5 billion reais, the filing issued by Chief Financial Officer Carlos Augusto Brandão said.

(Reporting by Leonardo Goy; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)