Etisalat’s Zain bid gathering momentum

8 Oct 2010

Reuters reports that UAE-based telecoms group Etisalat is nearing its proposed USD12 billion acquisition of a 46% stake in Kuwaiti counterpart Zain Group, after Zain’s largest private shareholder, the Kharafi Group, said it successfully advertised for shareholders to join a consortium and tender their shares. Kharafi, which ran the offer in the local media via its unit National Investments Co (NIC), said that it has collected pledges from enough shareholders to tender to Etisalat’s offer. ‘We have approvals from our clients to join the consortium … and these approvals have taken us to the 46%,’ Hamad al-Ameeri, general manager of NIC told Reuters. Kharafi directly owns 12.7% of Zain, but it is estimated that associated companies boost its effective holding up to 20%, whilst the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, is Zain’s largest shareholder with a 24.6% stake, and has also previously indicated its willingness to sell shares in the telco. The report notes that as some 10% of Zain shares are held as treasury stock, a 46% holding would give Etisalat effective control of the company.

Kuwait, Etisalat UAE, Zain Group