Kuwaiti telecoms giant Zain has struck a preliminary deal with Gulf and Asian investors to sell a 46% stake in the company. Jordanian newspaper Al-Rai reports that if the transaction is concluded it would be worth €10.47 billion.
The deal follows progress made by Zain shareholders last week at an extraordinary meeting to abolish restrictions on foreign ownership. Zain’s share price has rallied in recent months as speculation over potential buyers of a stake in the carrier escalated.
While the Al Arabiya news network reported that an unnamed Asian investor was in discussions to acquire a 46% in Zain.
The chief executive of Zain, Saad al Barrak, confirmed to wire services that shareholders were in talks to sell a stake, adding that management were not involved in the talks.
Al-Rai claims that negotiations are being handled by Kuwait's National Investments Co., the investment arm of Al-Khorafi group, the wealthiest family in Kuwait.
The Al-Khorafi group holds 11% of Zain, which has a market capitalisation of €16.1 billion, the report said.The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), a sovereign wealth fund, holds a 24.6% stake in the carrier.
European carrier Vivendi was involved in early acquisition talks with the carrier but announced in late July that discussion had ceased.
It was believed that Vivendi was looking at a stake of between 51% and 65% of the African business. That would include the mobile assets of 15 African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda.
Zain, Kuwait's oldest mobile operator, has over 65 million customers in 23 countries in the Middle East and Africa.