Thursday, February 11, 2010

Zain Denies Reports on Sale of African Networks

­Kuwait's Zain has refuted local media reports that it had been contacted regarding a sale of its African assets. The Al Anbaa newspaper had reported that Zain was in talks with Vivendi, France Telecom and Vodafone offer a possible sale of the former Celtel networks.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Zain said "There are no current offers and the company will inform the bourse's administration with any new information that may come up regarding this issue,"

The paper, citing unnamed sources said that Zain had been in talks with the other operators for the past couple of months and is seeking US$11-US$12 billion for the networks.

Vivendi was in talks last year to buy the African networks, for a reported US$12 billion - although those talks then broke down. At the time it was suggested that the sale could have been an all-share based transaction, with Zain taking 20 percent of Vivendi, in exchange for 10 percent of Zain Africa.

For its part, Vodafone recently increased its holdings in South Africa based Vodacom to 65%. A merger of the former Celtel, Vodafone and Vodacom assets across Africa could lead to much needed consolidation in several markets.

Celtel was founded by Sudanese-born Mo Ibrahim in 1998 and sold to Kuwiat's MTC (now Zain) in April 2005 for US$3.4 billion.

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