Zain to move to Bahrain

Regional telco giant eschews Amsterdam and Dubai in favour of Bahrain for new international HQ.

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By  Michele Howe Published  September 19, 2007

It's official: Zain, the company formerly known as MTC, will make its new home in Bahrain.

Putting an end to speculation, the regional telco giant announced yesterday that it would move the headquarters of its international operations unit to Bahrain.

"Our official position is moving to Bahrain. We expect to be relocated by May 2008," Ibrahim Adel, corporate communications and investor relations director at Zain, told ITP.net.

The company announced last month its decision to move its headquarters from Kuwait citing a restriction on investment as its main motivation.

"The Kuwaiti business environment repels investment and the country's laws are not good for a financial hub," Kuwait daily Al Rai quoted chief executive Dr Saad Al Barrak as saying at the time.

It is understood that Kuwai's acting communications minister Abdulwahed al-Awadhi met with Al Barrak in a bid to retain Zain, the second-largest Arab telecom firm by market value, in Kuwait, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

In addition to Bahrain, Zain also considered Amsterdam, base of its subsidiary Celtel, and Dubai, for the new headquarters.

The firm operates in Bahrain in partnership with Britain's Vodafone Group as Zain Bahrain (previously MTC Vodafone Bahrain).

The move comes shortly after the MTC group, one of the region's most powerful telco players, rebranded as Zain, adopting a new logo and bringing its various entities under the Zain umbrella.

It has rebranded its operations in Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and Sudan as Zain, and plans to rebrand its Iraqi unit, MTC Atheer, to Zain in the near future.

The mobile operations it is setting up in Saudi Arabia, due for launch early next year, will also be branded as Zain, the company said.

Zain operates in six countries in the Middle East and 14 in sub-Saharan Africa.

Al Barrak said the rebranding was aimed at taking the group further in its goal to become one of the top ten global mobile telecommunication companies in the next four years.

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