Oi Brasil ends recovery process – but still has a long way to go

The judicial process involving the recovery plan of Brazilian service provider Oi seems to be over  – after more than six years of negotiations with creditors.

Judge Fernando Viana of the 7th Business Court of Rio de Janeiro has now decreed that all obligations assumed by the company have been fulfilled. His decision noted that the judicial recovery plan was the largest in the country’s history and one of the most complex cases in the contemporary legal world.

Brazilian press reports say that as a result of the merger between Oi and Brasil Telecom, Oi filed for judicial recovery in the Rio de Janeiro Court in June 2016. At the time, the company owed BRL 65.4 billion (about US$12.3 billion but possibly closer to US$19 billion at today’s rates) and renegotiations with creditors to restructure the debts had failed. It was the largest bankruptcy request in the country’s history. The gross debt is now about a third of that amount.

In December 2017, creditors approved the judicial recovery plan, which reduced liabilities by 40% through the conversion of debts into equity interest in the company. The sale of Oi’s assets – mobile operations, a submarine cable company, a fibre optic company and around 8,000 fixed telephone towers – followed a few years later. There was also a debt reduction agreement with the Attorney General’s Office.

But the story isn’t quite over yet. The company still has around 22 billion reais (US$4.2 billion) of debts, and Oi, with limited cash-generating assets, will probably be loss-making for a while yet.

In addition unpaid creditors will still be able to continue to make claims. Oi faced claims from some 65,000 creditors, and not all cases have been settled to date. However, according to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the judge noted that “it is not the objective of the judicial recovery process to check whether the debtor will fulfil all the obligations contracted in the plan”.