$10.7 bln deal for African telecoms

Telecoms have attracted some of Africa’s biggest and most lucrative equity deals and the 14 Feb sale of $10.7 billion of telecom assets further indicates the rising power from the East, this time India.
On Sunday the Kuwait News Agency (www.kuna.net.kw) reported that the board of directors of Kuwait’s Zain Group (formerly MTC or Mobile Telecommunications Co. – www.zain.com) unanimously approved the sale of the group’s assets in Africa (except operations in Sudan and Morocco) to India’s Bharti Airtel.
The Kuwait Stock Exchange (www.kuwaitse.com) earlier on Sunday announced the suspension of Zain stocks until the group decides on sale of its affiliate in Africa. Shares in Zain were apparently up 23% since 4 February and rose nearly 4% on 11 February.
According to Reuters newsagency, Bharti had resumed its hunt for emerging market acquisitions after its planned $24 bln merger with South Africa’s MTN failed in September. There have been discussions of Zain group selling its assets in Africa since October.
Reuters says Zain is the third-largest telecoms operator in the Arab world. A consortium of Asian investors has been trying to buy a stake from Kuwaiti family conglomerate Kharafi Group for 2 dinars per share, or about $13.7 bln, reportedly for a 46% stake.

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