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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Telecommunication regulator in Brazil, ANATEL, announced on Thursday it was applying a R$11,500 fine on telephone operator, Oi, for the sale of the company’s reversible assets without prior approval of the entity.

Brazil,Communications Minister Gilberto Kassab, does not discard a government  intervention at Oi,
Communications Minister Gilberto Kassab, does not discard a government intervention at Oi, photo by Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil.

The fine is just one of the latest troubles faced by the operator, that filed for a judicial recovery in June of 2016, with debts totaling over R$65 billion.

Rumors of a possible government intervention in the company were reinforced by statements made by Communications Minister Gilberto Kassab on Thursday.

“As time passes, it is clear that the solution is distant, or there is difficulty. The government understands that, as time goes by, the chance of intervention increases,” the minister told reporters.

According to Kassab, the government continues to hope for a market solution for the company. The official said that the government should release in the coming weeks a temporary measure with rules to make the intervention.

ANATEL, however, said that a possible government intervention in the telecommunication concession would not justified by simply looking at the quality issue, but rather by other conditions such as the capacity to maintain the level of investments and the debt of the company with creditors and with the government.

The Oi conglomerate, which has the largest number of landline customers in the country, must in addition to the fine deposit R$3.5 million received for the sale of the reversible assets in an account.

In January Pharol SGPS, former Portugal Telecom and the largest shareholder of the Brazilian telecommunications operator rejected an alternative reorganization plan backed by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris.

The deal called for creditors to take control of Oi in a debt-for-stock exchange operation in which R$24.82 billion in debt would be exchanged for 95 percent of the company.

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