New Delhi: The Bharti Airtel board on Saturday approved a $9 billion offer for Kuwaiti telecom Zain’s African assets, Bloomberg reported, citing two people with knowledge of the negotiations.
On Friday, a source told Reuters the board was to meet on Saturday to discuss the bid and that the two sides might clinch a deal next week..
Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), the 32% owner of Bharti, confirmed the Indian firm’s board met on Saturday but would not comment on the content of the meeting.
“As for the Zain deal, the due diligence process is still ongoing and we have nothing further to add,” A SingTel spokeswoman said.
In India, A Bharti spokesman declined to comment.
Exclusive talks between Bharti and Zain expire on 25 March, marking the third time the Indian firm has tried to get its hands on a meaningful African business after two failed bids for South-Africa’s MTN.
Sources have told Reuters the two sides looked to have cleared a potential stumbling block over ownership of Zain’s assets in Nigeria, of which it holds 65%, and Friday’s source had said Bharti might put part of the purchase price in an escrow account to protect it from potential problems.
The Bloomberg report said Bharti intends to make its offer to Zain next week and may ask the Kuwaiti firm to provide legal protection from Nigeria dispute, though the Indian firm’s board had not specifically asked for this.
Bharti has been hunting for emerging market assets as its home turf becomes more competitive and call charges plummet in the world’s fastest growing mobile market.