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Kharafi Group could sell majority stake in Zain

Kuwaiti conglomerate says it is prepared to sell majority stake in Zain Group after renewed interest from India’s BSNL.

Kharafi Group could sell majority stake in Zain
Indian operator BSNL is keen to gain a controlling stake in Zain Group by taking a majority stake in the Vavasi consortium.

Kharafi Group, a Kuwaiti business conglomerate and a major shareholder in Kuwaiti telco Zain Group, said it was willing to sell a majority stake in the telco, according to a report from Reuters.

A senior official for the conglomerate, which has already agreed to sell a 46% stake in the operator to a consortium led by India's Vavasi group, made the comments after it emerged that Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), one of India's two state-run telecom operators and part of the Vavasi consortium, said it wanted to see the consortium take a majority stake in Zain.

The Vavasi group said it was willing to give a majority stake in the consortium to BSNL or Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), India's other state-run telco, depending on which company could secure government approval to go ahead with the deal, according to a report from India's Business Standard.

Meanwhile, Zain's CEO, Saad Al-Barrak, appeared to torpedo any rumours that Bharti Airtel or MTN, the biggest telecom operators in India and South Africa respectively, might be interested in buying Zain's African assets following their failure to secure a deal to merge their two operations.

Al-Barrack confirmed at a recent press conference that "negotiations over Zain African assets have been halted...at the request of the potential buyers", with the comments thought to be directly related to BSNL's interest in taking a leading role in the Vavasi consortium.

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