Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Asian Group In Talks to Buy 46% of Zain

Further rumours about the future of Kuwait's telco, Zain after local newspapers reported that a consortium is seeking to take a 46 percent stake in the company. Such a move is expected to inject necessary capital into the group without it having to divest its African holdings.

Zain's Chief Executive Saad al-Barrak confirmed to Reuters that shareholders were in talks to sell a stake in the group, declining to give further details.

An unnamed Asia based consortium is reported to be leading the bid, although it includes the Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund amongst its members. Reuters added that Al-Arabiya television reported that shareholders had agreed to sell their stake in Zain to an Asian group and that an official announcement was due shortly.

Zain's largest single shareholder, the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) recently said that it would consider selling its stake in the company if the right offer came along. A vote by shareholders last month also overturned a rule that limited individual new shareholders from owning more than two percent of the company.

Zain's chairman, Saad al-Barrak has said in the past that he wants to see the KIA sell its stake in Zain as soon as possible. "I wish they would leave tomorrow, and I am working on this," he said. He added that the motivation was to ensure the company could operate without political interference.

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