(Rewrites after company and bondholders statement, paragraphs 1-7)
By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, March 1 Orascom TMT Holdings SAE and a group of bondholders have given Oi SA another month to amend a reorganization plan, in a move that could help accelerate the Brazilian telephone carrier's exit from bankruptcy protection.
In a joint statement, Orascom and the bondholders said a list of suggestions to amend the plan will be valid through March 31. The suggestions had expired on Feb. 28.
Reuters reported the one-month extension earlier on Wednesday. The Oi media office declined to comment.
Under terms of the December proposal, Orascom and the bondholders, who are represented by Moelis & Co, vowed to pump as much as $1.25 billion into Oi, take immediate control of the carrier and reorganize the company. Other creditor groups have lashed out at the proposal, saying it only seeks to favor one, smaller class of Oi bondholders.
Extending the deadline should buy time for the bond firms and billionaire Naguib Sawiris, who controls Orascom, to discuss the fate of the carrier with shareholders, trumping rival offers for Oi.
Orascom and the bondholders "are currently considering potential refinements to the alternative plan based on input received from other creditors and stakeholders," the statement said.
The group, however, remains "concerned with the deterioration of the company’s business ... and the impact that further delays could have on the prospects for a successful turnaround," according to the statement.
The Oi reorganization process, which began in June, has been marked by a series of disputes between creditors and shareholders over the fate of Brazil's No. 4 wireless carrier. The government has threatened to intervene should Oi stakeholders fail to reach an agreement.
Preferred shares, Oi's most widely traded class of stock, reversed early gains and shed 0.6 percent to 3.42 reais in São Paulo. The stock is up 62 percent this year.
The Orascom-bondholder group has committed to underwriting the entire capital injection if no other investors step forward. In exchange, the new money providers would be entitled to a 7.5 percent backstop fee.
As part of the Orascom-backed plan, Oi was asked to agree to a debt-for-equity swap involving 24.82 billion reais ($7.9 billion) worth of bond debt, which would be exchanged for a 95 percent stake in the debt-laden carrier.
($1 = 3.1168 reais) (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Grant McCool)
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