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Sonae.com offer for Oni could spur Portuguese consolidation

Portugal-Portuguese company Sonae.com has approached EDP regarding an acquisition of its telecom subsidiary Oni Group, which owns a third-generation license in Portugal. Sonae owns 45 percent of Portuguese mobile operator Optimus, and Oni operates a fixed-line network in Portugal as well.

Utility EDP held a stake in Optimus until it was forced to sell it last year after it purchased the 3G license. Regulations restrict a company with a 3G license from owning stakes in another 3G license holder.

The move could bring consolidation in Portugal’s mobile market, which currently has three incumbent operators. TMN, owned by Portugal Telecom, is the market leader with around 4 million subscribers. Vodafone Telecel, majority owned by Vodafone Group plc, is the second-largest operator followed by Optimus, in which Orange holds a 20-percent stake. In addition to Oni, all three incumbents hold 3G licenses.

Analysts said EDP is likely to accept the offer to avoid costly start-up costs for its mobile operations.

Sonae.com said it would merge Oni’s fixed-line unit with its Novis fixed-line business.

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