Scott Gegenheimer, the CEO of Kuwaiti telecoms group Zain, has announced that the company is looking to expand in North Africa by taking controlling stakes in companies or winning management contracts in the region, the Arab Times reports. Gegenheimer described the region as a good fit for Zain’s existing portfolio in terms of branding and operational synergies, adding: ‘North Africa looks very interesting and there are always opportunities coming up. We are looking across the board, whether it is Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco – increasing our stake there would be interesting for us.’ Gegenheimer also revealed that Libya is an untapped market that would fit Zain’s portfolio, adding that ‘[Zain] would be interested in pretty much anywhere in North Africa’. Further, the executive said that the company might also consider entering Egypt because of its population size, although he noted that competition was fierce among the country’s mobile operators.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Zain sold its mobile operations in 15 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region to India-based Bharti Airtel in June 2010. The Indian telecoms group paid a net USD8.97 billion in cash for 100% of Netherlands-based holding and finance company Zain Africa BV (formerly Celtel International) in a deal which valued the business at USD10.7 billion, including USD1.7 billion of debt. Zain Group currently provides mobile voice and data services in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa, namely: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon (via a state network management agreement [NMA] contract, which expired in June 2013, but was subsequently extended to end-September 2013), Sudan and the newly independent state of South Sudan. The group also holds a 15.5% stake in Moroccan cellco Inwi (Wana), through a 50/50 joint venture with Morocco’s Al Ajial Investment Fund Holding.