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Huawei Denies Reported Plans to Acquire Embattled Brazilian Carrier

By Matthew Walsh / Sep 23, 2019 04:37 PM / World

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has denied reports that it is planning to team up with China Mobile to buy embattled Brazilian carrier Oi.

“Huawei has no plans or interest to acquire Oi or any other Brazilian carrier,” Huawei said in a statement.

On Saturday, Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported that Huawei, in tandem with China Mobile, was targeting the struggling Oi in a bid to expand its influence in Latin America. Oi, which controls around 360,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables, was a tantalizing proposition for the Chinese firm eager to cash in on Brazil’s eventual rollout of 5G wireless technology, the newspaper said.

Although Oi is Brazil’s largest fixed-line carrier, the company has languished in the doldrums since 2016, when it filed for bankruptcy protection as it sought to restructure around 65 billion reais (then $19 billion) of debt.

Huawei’s statement comes as the besieged company struggles to broaden its interests in overseas 5G markets. Several countries have blacklisted Huawei from all or part of forthcoming 5G infrastructure due to suspicions that the company’s systems could be compromised by the Chinese state.

Huawei denies those claims and has tried to win over its doubters by striking increasingly altruistic notes. Last Monday, the company’s chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, said in an interview with The Economist that he is willing to license Huawei’s 5G technologies to the U.S. in order to help the country strengthen its own next-generation telecom industry, a development that experts described as a “smart public relations move.”

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: China’s Huawei Woos Tech World With $1.5 Billion and 5G Secrets
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