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Friday, September 11, 2009

Malaysian-Indian alliance to buy stake in Kuwait's Zain telecom - MSN

Leading investors in Kuwait's Zain telecom on Tuesday signed an agreement with a Malaysian-Indian consortium for the sale of a 46-percent stake in the emirate's largest mobile operator.

The consortium consists of Malaysia's al-Bukhari Group and India's Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL), India's largest communications service provider, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Vavasi Group.

Bader al-Khorafi, a top executive of Kuwait's Al-Khorafi Group, the largest private shareholder in Zain, told a press conference late Tuesday that the sale would be carried out within four months.

He said the value of the sale, expected to be around 14 billion dollars, would be paid in one time in according with Kuwait Stock Exchange rules.

Kuwait's National Investments Co. is arranging the deal on behalf of the Kuwaiti investors, he said.

The company said in a statement posted on the Kuwait bourse website Monday that the sale was set for a price of two Kuwaiti dinars (seven dollars) per share. Zain stocks were trading at around 1.500 dinars (5.2 dollars).

The government owns the largest stake of 24.6 percent in Kuwait's oldest mobile operator.

Zain has a paid-up capital of 427.5 million dinars (1.49 billion dollars), representing 4.275 billion shares.

A 46-percent stake would equal about two billion shares and at a price of two dinars a share, the deal would be worth 3.933 billion dinars (13.7 billion dollars).

The 46 percent of shares would give buyers a controlling stake in Zain since 10 percent of the shares are held by the board of directors in the form of treasury shares, which do not enjoy voting rights.

Last week, Zain shareholders abolished decades-old restrictions on ownership to enable foreign investors to take up a majority stake in the emirate's oldest mobile operator.

The company's 65 million clients are located throughout 23 countries in the Middle East and Africa. As of Tuesday, its capitalisation stands at around 23 billion dollars.

It is one of three mobile operators in Kuwait, along with National Telecommunications Co (Wataniya) and Kuwait Telecommunications Co (VIVA).

Qatar Telecom owns a majority stake in Wataniya while VIVA is run by the Saudi Telecom Co.


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