Zain pays $120mn for Ghana telco

Second-largest Arab operator to buy 75% of Western Telesystems from the Ghanaian gov't.

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By  Reuters Published  October 22, 2007

Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co (Zain), the second-largest Arab telecom firm by market value, said it is to buy a Ghanaian operator for $120 million.

Zain has agreed to buy 75% of Western Telesystems from the Ghanaian government through its Celtel unit, and will list some of its shares on the Ghanaian stock exchange, it said in a statement on Monday.

Netherlands-based Celtel, which Zain bought for $3.4 billion in 2005 to expand in sub-Saharan Africa, operates in 14 other African countries.

MTC runs networks in 20 countries in the Middle East and Africa and is expanding abroad to counter competition at home, where the government is setting up a third mobile phone operator.

Western Telesystems, or Westel, would list a portion of its shares on the Ghanaian stock exchange, Ghana's minister of cmmunications, Benjamin Aggrey-Ntim, said in the statement.

He did not say how many shares would be listed.

The government would retain a 25% stake in the firm, Zain said.

In July Zain agreed to borrow $320 million to finance its expansion in Africa.

The number of mobile phone users in Ghana, a country of 22 million people, has grown 56% in the last year, Zain said. About 28% of the population uses mobiles.

Westel has a licence to offer fixed-line and mobile phone services in the West African country and would likely start operations in the first half of next year, Zain said.

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