The government of Timor Leste is reportedly planning to acquire the majority stake in Timor Telecom (TT) that has long been held by Brazil’s Oi.
Timorese finance minister Rui Gomes told Lusa News Agency that the draft state budget for 2023 included a US$14.5 million allowance for the acquisition, with the minister adding that talks with Oi were continuing with a “positive” result anticipated. Gomes noted that the government wishes to take over TT’s capital and debt to Oi.
TT’s shares are split between Telecomunicacoes Publicas de Timor (TPT), which holds 54.01%, the Timorese state with 20.59%, Macao-based VDT Operator Holdings with 17.86%, and Timorese businessman Julio Alfaro with 4.49%.
Oi obtained a 76.14% stake in TPT after it obtained Portugal Telecom’s assets following their 2013 merger, giving it control over TT. Between 2002 and 2012, PT held a concession contract with the Timorese government that gave it control over TT, with the operator holding a monopoly prior to the market being liberalised. Macao News notes that Oi has never invested in TT, but has taken dividends and interest from the loan.
The Timorese government has made numerous attempts to regain control of TT from both PT and Oi via public-private partnerships.