Zain confirms $10.7bn sale to Bharti

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A deal to sell Zain’s African operations, except for Sudan and Morocco, should be signed in the next few days, says Zain

Kuwaiti telecoms company Zain has confirmed that it is to sell all its African operations, excluding Sudan and Morocco, to India’s Bharti Airtel. The $10.7 billion deal is expected to be structured as $9 billion in cash and $1.7 billion in debt.

The combined entity will have 165 million subscribers in Africa and South Asia. Zain, which is being advised by UBS, is facing opposition from South Africa’s Econet Wireless to sell its Nigerian operations to Bharti. Standard Chartered and Barclays are advising the Indian telecoms company.

A statement from Zain today said that the definitive agreements are “expected to be signed in the coming days”.

Zain is planning to use sale proceeds to focus on growth in the Middle East as part of its new expansion strategy. It is expecting net funds of up to $5 billion from the sale after paying certain liabilities.

Bharti has already secured $8.3 billion in financing from banks including Standard Chartered, Barclays Bank, State Bank of India, Australia and New Zealand Banking, BNP Paribas, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Credit Agricole. GTB