Vodafone is considering buying a mobile operator in Brazil, Telecom Italia's local unit being its preferred target, it emerged this week.
The U.K. telco has its eye on one of the country's three main mobile operators, Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported. It cited a document detailing a meeting between Brazilian authorities at the Brazilian embassy in London late last month. The document states that Vodafone has a "strong interest" in Brazil and would prefer to enter the market by acquiring an existing carrier, rather than through an upcoming 4G auction.
Vodafone reportedly wants to control one of the top three operators in the country, the report claims. It is looking in particular at TIM Brasil.
Telefonica's Vivo leads the Brazilian market with a 28.8% share of its 275.7 million mobile connections as of the end of June, according to the latest statistics from regulator Anatel. TIM comes in second with 26.9%, followed by America Movil's Claro with 25%. Locally-owned player Oi is a distant fourth with 18.5% of the market, while no other player holds more than 0.4%.
Of the top three, Telecom Italia is the most likely to sell up, since Brazil remains its only Latin American market, but it would doubtless want a good price for the asset. It seems unlikely that America Movil or Telefonica would want to sell, since both have significant footprints across the region.
Whether Vodafone is genuinely interested in becoming a Brazilian mobile operator is also by no means certain. The company has recently been focusing on establishing a fixed-line presence in many of its existing markets and has shown little interest in expanding to entirely new regions.