According to Reuters, Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco) CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos is confident that Sunday’s court ruling against Kuwait-based telecoms giant Zain Group will not derail his company’s proposed USD950 million joint deal to acquire a 25% stake in Zain Saudi Arabia. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, on 14 March Zain accepted a joint offer for its 25% stake in Zain Saudi Arabia from Batelco and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s investment vehicle, Kingdom Holdings Company (KHC).
Sunday’s legal intervention saw a Kuwaiti lower court rule that Zain’s annual shareholder meeting – which was held in April 2011 – was invalid, upholding a case brought by former board member Sheikh Khalifa Ali Al-Sabah, who opposes the deal. The court annulled all decisions taken by the Zain board, which it found guilty of a number of violations, including: failing to record shareholders’ objections to the Zain Saudi Arabia deal, and even ‘stopping some shareholders from entering, locking the doors’.
Despite the setback – the latest in a long line of obstacles thrown in the way of the long-running deal – Kaliaropoulos told Reuters that he is awaiting official clarification from Zain regarding the full implications of the court ruling. He commented: ‘The court case was in Kuwait, not Saudi Arabia. If it was detrimental, we would have heard straight away. I can only judge that because we have not heard at this point in time, it is not [of] material impact’. Kaliaropoulos reiterated that he expects due diligence on the deal to be completed by the end of September.