(Bloomberg) -- Oi SA, the distressed Brazilian telecom operator, asked a court to shield it from creditors ahead of a major debt payment, in what may lead to a second bankruptcy protection process in seven years.
The company, which underwent one of the largest corporate restructurings in Brazil’s history — that began in 2016 and ended just last year — said it needs urgent help to fend off creditors, according to a filing to a Rio de Janeiro court seen by Bloomberg News. The company confirmed the request for a preliminary injunction on Thursday.
Oi said it currently has about 29 billion reais ($5.7 billion) of debt, with half denominated in dollars. With 600 million reais coming due on Feb. 5, the company said recent negotiations with bondholders have failed to yield an agreement and therefore it needs protection to prevent an acceleration of its liabilities.
“Unfortunately, diverse unpredictable and uncontrollable factors, along with the economic and financial situation, has made it absolutely necessary to seek judicial protection to implement a new stage of restructuring and guarantee the preservation of the company, which is a generator of jobs and revenue,” the company said.
Oi had said in a presentation in late December that it was in talks with creditors to address short-term funding needs.
The move comes nearly two weeks after Americanas SA, one of Brazil’s most emblematic retailers, filed for bankruptcy protection due to a massive accounting error that doubled its debt. Oi’s court filing, prepared by the same law firm as Americanas, mentions the measure that was granted to the retailer to fend off creditors and try to preserve liquidity.
Other factors mentioned in the filing include a sudden surge in interest rates in Brazil and a continued loss of fixed line clients over the past several years.
Oi’s common shares opened 20% lower in Sao Paulo Thursday, trimming their year-to-date gains. The company’s market value stands at about 1.3 billion reais and its bonds due in 2025 trade near 10 cents on the dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
--With assistance from Vinícius Andrade.
(Adds company confirmation in second paragraph.)
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