Kuwait: Kuwait’s Zain has received an offer of up to $10.7 billion for its African assets from telecom firm Bharti Airtel, Kuwaiti newspapers reported on Saturday.
Zain’s board is expected to meet soon to discuss the offer, local daily al-Rai said in an unsourced report.
In another unsourced report on Saturday, Kuwaiti al-Watan newspaper said that the firm’s board is due to meet on Sunday to discuss the offer.
Officials at both firms were not immediately available for comment. On Monday, Zain said in a statement on the Kuwaiti bourse website that it has not received any offers for the sale of its Zain Africa assets.
In October, Zain halted talks to sell African assets to appease potential buyers of a 46% stake in Zain Group.
On Thursday, Zain’s board elected Nabil bin Salama as the firm’s new chief executive. Saad al-Barrak, who was seen as the driving force behind the company becoming the third-largest telecom operator in the Arab world, resigned earlier this month.
Bharti has been on the lookout for acquisitions since its planned $24 billion merger with South Africa’s MTN failed in October, the second time a proposed deal between the two had collapsed in just over a year.
Last month, Bharti agreed to buy 70% of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom for an initial investment of $300 million. It also set up a new unit to drive its foreign expansion, focused on opportunities in emerging markets where it can replicate its low-price, high-volume model.
Bharti’s home mobile market is facing margin pressures from intense competition and price wars, which are leading to lower tariffs and shrinking profits.