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AlWaleed sees Zain Saudi Deal After 2 Months Diligence

Billionaire Prince sees due diligence to take 4-6 weeks; Says 1 cent dividend from Citi is for short-term

April 24, 2011 12:51 by

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin  Talal, whose firm Kingdom Holding has bid for a  quarter stake in Zain Saudi, expects to complete the  deal two months after finishing a due diligence process.

Kuwaiti telco Zain, which has a 25-percent stake  in Zain Saudi, has conditionally accepted a $950 million offer  from joint bidders Bahrain Telecommunications Co  (Batelco) and Kingdom Holding.

He expects the due diligence process to take as many as six  weeks to complete. “We now started… the Zain Saudi (due diligence) which is  expected to take between a month to a month and half,” Alwaleed told reporters in Kuwait.

“If everything goes well we expect to complete the deal of  buying Zain Saudi from Zain Kuwait within 2 more months.”

Last week, Zain Saudi said its first-quarter net loss  narrowed as the telecoms operator offered new services and  packages to lure customers but the quarterly loss was still  wider than analysts forecasts.

Alwaleed, a prominent investor in Citigroup, said the  U.S. bank’s one cent dividend was for the short-term, adding  that the bank was “on the right track.”

“No doubt that the 1 cent dividend is very symbolic and is  for short-term…..the leadership in Citi announced publicly  that 2012 will be the year of returning shareholders capital  which would happen through two ways, either increase the  dividends or some share buyback,” he told reporters.

A company owned by Alwaleed agreed to give back most of the  land it was allocated for a farming project in southern Egypt,  an Egyptian government spokesman said last week.  Alwaleed told reporters that his investments in Egypt were  safe but did not give more details.

(Reporting by Eman Goma, Writing by Dinesh Nair, Editing by  Reed Stevenson)

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