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Nabeel Bin Salamah

Zain’s new CEO certainly has a full in-tray, given Bharti Airtel’s $9bn offer for the telco’s African assets. At times like this, it pays to be well-connected.

February 20, 2010 11:09 by

Nabeel Bin Salamah was appointed CEO of the Kuwaiti telecoms company Zain just five days ago – but he already has a lot in his ‘in tray’.

The Kuwaiti replaces Saad al Barrak, who resigned amid uncertainty over a $13.7 billion stake sale to a consortium of Asian investors.

And now there is a $9 billion bid on the table from Bharti Airtel, the Indian operator which has offered to buy most of Zain’s African mobile-phone operations.

Luckily, Bin Salama is well connected. He previously served as Kuwait’s minister of communications, electricity and water, following several years in the public sector. He also worked as the GM of another mobile operator in 1997.

Sources close to the company say that the new CEO will be less focused on expansion than al-Barrak, who is credited with leading the company into more than 20 new markets in the MENA region.

Other commentators point out that the Kuwaiti government, weighed by the bank guarantees it gave during the financial crisis, is currently looking to raise cash. Bin Salamah, a former member of the cabinet, doubtlessly has a view on the part Zain could play in this.

Click ‘next’ to see Bin Salamah’s network.


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