(Changes dateline to RIO DE JANEIRO, adds details on FIA Société actions, background)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian telecommunications industry watchdog Anatel is slated to decide on changes to the structure of carrier Oi SA’s board in the coming days, a senior government official said on Monday.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Rio de Janeiro, Communications Minister Gilberto Kassab told reporters that, once the changes are approved, the watchdog will keep an observer at the board of Oi, which is currently under bankruptcy protection proceedings. He did not elaborate on those changes.
On Nov. 8, Anatel suspended two board members appointed by minority investor FIA Société Mondiale, on suspicion they participated in meetings and influenced decisions affecting the carrier without the watchdog’s permission.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters recently that Nelson Tanure, the main investor in Société Mondiale, pressured Oi’s management to hire his lawyers to negotiate directly with creditors.
According to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Tanure asked to be informed of any Oi board decisions. He also presented Helio Costa, his pick for an Oi board seat, as head of the carrier’s institutional relations while allegedly promoting board initiatives as if they were his own, the person said.
A spokesman for Tanure and Société Mondiale did not have an immediate comment. Tanure’s Société Mondiale and Pharol SA SGPS, Oi’s largest shareholder, agreed to end their boardroom dispute in September, after it drew mounting government scrutiny.
Oi’s 65.4 billion-real ($19 billion) bankruptcy protection case, Brazil’s biggest ever, has been complicated by rifts between different groups of creditors and shareholders.
Oi’s preferred shares, its most widely traded class of stock, rose 6.2 percent to 2.56 reais in afternoon trading in Sao Paulo. They have risen 31 percent so far this year. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Writing by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Paul Simao)