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NEWS UPDATES 10 September 2009

Malaysian, Indian firms pursue stake in Kuwait’s telecom giant

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Malaysian tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and India-based Vavasi Group are buying a majority stake in Zain, Kuwait’s biggest telecommunication company, the StarBiz reported.

A Bloomberg report, quoting Vavasi Telegence Pvt managing director Farid Arifuddin, said the transaction agreement was signed on Monday, finalising “the modalities of the transaction structure.”

Two other Indian companies – Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam – were invited to participate in the acquisition but have yet to come on board.

A Reuters report, meanwhile, said the sale involved combined stakes of 46 percent, owned by majority shareholder Kharafi Group (20 percent) and several minority shareholders. The sale price is estimated at two dinar per share, valuing the entire deal at $13.7bil.

The reports, however, did not disclose Syed Mokhtar’s portion in the deal.

Zain has a paid-up capital of $1.49bil representing 4.275 billion shares, and its biggest shareholder is the Kuwaiti government with 24.6 percent.

It was reported earlier that Zain, which is present in 24 countries, planned to dispose of stakes in its African operations, with the exception of its Morrocan and Sudanese business.

For the financial year ended December 31, 2008, it made a net income of US$1.2bil on revenue of $7.4billion, serving over 63.5 million customers in the Middle East and Africa.

This is the first telecom venture that Syed Mokhtar is involved in. His flagship companies, including 52 percent owned MMC Corp Bhd, 56 percent held DRB-HICOM Bhd and 30 percent owned Tradewinds (M) Bhd, are involved in diverse sectors like transport, logistics, energy, utilities and engineering, construction, automotive and agriculture.


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