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Zain OKs joint offer for Saudi assets

Zain says offer totals $1.2 billion; Cash offer for Saudi stake remains $950 mln - Batelco CEO; Conditions include takeover of $961 mln of guarantees-Zain

March 15, 2011 3:46 by

Kuwaiti telco Zain has accepted a joint offer from Bahrain Telecom (Batelco) and Kingdom Holding for a 25 percent stake in Zain Saudi.

Batelco and Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding will pay $1.2 billion for the stake and guarantee $961 million of Zain Saudi debt owed to Zain, it said on Tuesday.

On Monday, Kingdom Holding said Zain’s board had approved a $950 million offer for its Saudi assets, removing a regulatory hurdle for the Kuwaiti telco’s $12 billion stake sale to UAE’s Etisalat.

“We are working on the offer, and we know what we are offering. The only cash portion of the offer is $950 millon,” Batelco’s Cheif Executive Peter Kaliaropoulos told Reuters on Tuesday, after Zain’s announcement.

Zain said Kingdom and Batelco would also have to pump liquidity into Zain Saudi as part of the deal.

“The offer has complexities. There are a number of conditions involved and different parties can interpret the deal differently,” Kaliaropoulos added.

Zain said the due diligence process was expected to take 30 days and would start after a final agreement is reached and after the approval of Zain Saudi’s board.

Zain must sell its quarter stake in Zain Saudi as part of a regulatory requirement to avoid an overlap with Etisalat, which also operates in the kingdom through affiliate Mobily

(Reporting by Eman Goma and Dinesh Nair; Editing by Will Waterman)

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