Kuwait / New Delhi: The board of Kuwaiti telecoms operator Zain has approved a $9 billion sale of most of its African assets to India’s biggest telecoms firm Bharti Airtel, sources said on Wednesday.
Due diligence on the deal, which will extend Bharti Airtel’s reach into African emerging markets, is completed and the sale documents will be signed within several days, the sources said.
Spokesmen for Zain and Bharti declined to comment.
Bharti said on Sunday it had tied up the entire financing requirement of $8.3 billion, with major international banks committing to underwrite the amount. The deadline for exclusive talks with Zain expires on Thursday.
Bharti, which failed twice to acquire Africa’s biggest mobile operator MTN Group, is desperate to expand in new markets, as cut-rate competition in its home market —the world’s fastest growing — squeezes margins and clouds its growth outlook.
Zain’s African businesses had been considered a natural target for Bharti, which has thrived in an Indian market with low incomes and tariffs and a heavily rural population — characteristics shared by African nations.
Zain was keen to lock in what many regard as a high price offered by Bharti. The Kuwaiti group pulled back from an expansion spree last year and rejected an offer from France’s Vivendi for its African assets.
Bharti, 32% owned by Singapore Telecommunications, has said it would pay a total $9 billion in cash to Zain, including $700 million to be paid one year after the deal closing.
The Indian firm will also assume $1.7 billion debt on the target firm’s books.