Two investment funds have joined in a bidding war for Portugal Telecom, with a joint offer of 7.07 billion euros ($8.8 billion) to buy most of its assets from Brazilian operator Oi.
The offer by Apax Partners and Bain Capital, which was announced on Wednesday by Oi, came just over a week after French group Altice launched a bid of 7.03 billion euros for the same assets.
Like Altice's bid, the investment funds' offer excludes Portugal Telecom's business in Africa and almost 900 million euros in debt owed by Rioforte -- a company of the troubled Espirito Santo group.
A Luxembourg court had last month decided that Rioforte, the main holding company of Santo's non-financial assets, would be liquidated.
Oi and Portugal Telecom had only announced their merger just over a year ago. But the marriage has soured over Portugal Telecom's loan in April to Rioforte.
Meanwhile, Isabel dos Santos -- an Angola businesswoman and daughter of the country's president -- launched a separate bid to buy the holding company of Portugal Telecom which in turn owns about a quarter of Oi.
Her bid of 1.35 euros per share values Portugal Telecom at 1.2 billion euros, and was dismissed by Brazil's Oi as "unacceptable" and "ill-timed".
Portugal Telecom's net profit surged 46.6 percent last year to 331 million euros after it hived off its participation in a company in Macau, China.