Zain stake sale agreed

9 Sep 2009

Shareholders in Kuwait-based telecoms group Zain have announced that an agreement has been reached to sell a 46% stake in the telco to a group of Indian and Malaysian investors. The purchasing consortium consists of Malaysia’s al-Bukhari Group, Indian stat-owned duo Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL), the former of which is the country’s largest fixed line operator, and Vavasi Telegence. As reported on 7 September the Al-Kharafi group, which holds an indirect 10.8% stake in Zain via the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), led the negotiations for existing shareholders. Bard al-Kharafi, vice president of Al-Kharafi group revealed to a news conference that the sale had been agreed at KWD2 (USD7) per share, valuing the stake at approximately USD13.7 billion. The deal is expected to take around four months to complete.

Farid Arifuddin, managing director of Vavasi Telegence, has suggested that the stake sale could see Zain hold on to its African assets, which have been the subject of takeover speculation in recent months. Arifuddin said: ‘Our plan is to consolidate networks further and roll out larger networks and cover greater markets … It’s not to sell for sure. We see a lot of synergy between India and the other countries where Zain group is in operation in Africa. What we bring to the transaction is our experience. Especially our prospective partners from India, they have the experience of operating in low cost countries.’