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Reliance eyes Zain's Africa operations

19 августа 2009

Reliance Communications (RCOM) is in talks over a deal to acquire Zain's African operations.

Sources in a report by India's Economic Times said that majority Zain holder, the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), is in discussions with the Indian operator over the possible sale of Zain's Celtel business, which is thought be valued at $10 billion.

The speculation follows a report on Monday by Dow Jones Newswires which claimed that the Kuwaiti operator is in talks with three potential buyers, including one Indian company, over the sale of its African assets.

"They are in preliminary stages of evaluating the deal," claimed an unnamed banking source, in a separate report by Reuters on Tuesday.

"Reliance Communications has been looking at some emerging markets assets since its deal with MTN fell through," he said.

Indeed, RCOM and MTN entered merger talks in May 2008, but the proposed deal collapsed due to a combination of legal and regulatory issues.

During that same period MTN also discussed a potential tie-up with rival Indian operator Bharti Airtel, although the pair failed to agree on a deal structure.

However, exclusive talks between the two companies were revived in May 2009, and a merger said to be worth $23 billion could still go ahead.

If successful the combined telco would be one of the top 10 largest global operators with a subscriber base of more than 200 million.

Meanwhile, as well as RCOM, Zain has also been linked with France Telecom, Etisalat and Vivendi over the sale of its African business.

Rumours persist that Etisalat is still in the frame despite denying reports in July that it planned to acquire Zain's Africa units.

"Etisalat is looking at a 51% stake in Zain," said a source in the Economic Times.

Vivendi also confirmed in early July it was in talks with Zain, but called a halt to the proceedings later that same month on grounds that the deal wasn't in the best interests of its shareholders.

"Vivendi pulled out stating that the deal was inconsistent with its financial criteria. But for an Indian company, Africa is an emerging market and does make strategic business sense," said one source.

Источник: Total Telecom

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