The board of Kuwait-based telecoms group Zain has approved proposals by India’s Bharti Airtel for the acquisition of the former’s African assets, according to the Business Standard. Exclusive negotiations between the two companies were due to end today, and while a deal has not been officially announced it is understood that Zain and Bharti are finalising ‘definitive agreements’. A final agreement between the two companies, worth an estimated USD9 billion, is likely to be formally announced within the next couple of days. ‘Upon signing, the parties will move towards getting any required approvals,’ Zain noted in an e-mailed statement, confirming that the due diligence process had been completed. The announcement comes just a few days after Bharti revealed that it had secured a USD8.3 billion loan to finance the acquisition.
Should the deal be completed successfully it will mark third time lucky for Bharti, which has twice before tried to extend its presence to Africa, with two failed bids for MTN Group. The telco’s desire to expand its regions of operation stem in part from increased competition in its home market, and should its Zain purchase go through it will it have a combined subscriber base of some 171 million across 19 countries, 15 of which would be in Africa.