India's BSNL, MTNL doing due diligence for Zain - report

Indian ambassador to Kuwait confirms development in published remarks.

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By  Rania El Gamal Published  September 12, 2009

India's Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam are undertaking due diligence to buy a stake in Zain, the Indian ambassador to Kuwait said in remarks published on Saturday.

Last week, the two state-run firms said they had not decided on whether to join a consortium that is buying a 46 percent stake in Kuwaiti telecom Zain.

"MTNL and BSNL are always looking for investment opportunities overseas to expand their operations. As for buying a stake in Zain group, the evaluation and due diligence is ongoing," ambassador Ajai Malhotra said, according to al-Qabas newspaper.

The Indian embassy could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Family conglomerate Kharafi Group, a major shareholder in Zain, has said it would sell a 46 percent stake in Zain - comprising its estimated 20 percent holding plus that of other shareholders - in a deal that would be worth around $13.7 billion.

A consortium of Indian telecom companies and a Malaysian investor signed an agreement on Tuesday to buy the stake.

Kharafi Group's vice president Badr al-Kharafi said on Tuesday the consortium is led by India's Vavasi Group and includes regional telecom companies BSNL and MTNL, and Malaysian billionaire Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary. (Reuters)

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