Billionaire financier George Soros’ private hedge fund is investing US$150 million in a Brazilian telecommunications firm to spur expansion of 4G Internet service in Brazil, the company said on Tuesday.
The Soros Fund Management has committed the money to On Telecom, a new, Sao Paulo-based company that earlier this year pioneered a 4G broadband Internet network in Sao Paulo State, Brazil’s most populous state and economic engine.
“Our total investment plan is 500 million reais [US$217 million] over two to three years,” On Telecom chairman Zaki Rakib told a press conference. “Soros has committed US$150 million, some of which has already been spent.”
Rakib and chief executive Fares Nassar own more than 50 percent of the capital, but Rakib said that as the Soros fund disburses more of the money it committed, it could become the majority owner.
“It’s only the beginning. Soros has confidence in us and in the growth of the Brazilian telecom market,” he told reporters.
Brazil is already the world’s fourth largest IT and telecommunications market.
With the country set to host next year’s soccer World Cup and the 2016 Rio summer Olympics, industry experts are anticipating an explosive growth of demand for mobile communications.
On said it and Soros last year acquired Sunrise Telecomunicacoes which offers 4G wireless access for mobile devices.
“We are exploring opportunities for further investment. We can wait, four, five, 10 years, we are in it for the long haul,” said Rakib, an Egyptian-born Israeli entrepreneur who sold his communications firm, Terayon Communication Systems Inc, to Motorola Inc for US$140 million in 2007.