Zain's Africa Asset Sale is a Planned Move

ZainIn a planned move, Kuwaiti telecom group Zain has decided to sell its African assets. Zain's largest shareholder is the Kuwait Investment Authority. While the Kharafis own a stake of about 20%.

"We sold because we wanted to concentrate on the Middle East and Bharti wanted to get into Africa. It's a fair price and opportunity for both of us", said Nasser al-Kharafi, the Head of the Kharafi Group.

Analysts say that Zain had failed to capitalize fully on its African operations, and profits were also below par. 11.47% of Zain through one of its units is owned by the Kharafi group, which is one of Kuwait's biggest family businesses.

Zain announced this week that India's Bharti Airtel is in exclusive talks to buy most of Zain's African business. Until March 25, the companies have to seal the $10.7 billion deal. This deal would be the second largest deal this year, after the Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim's move to merge his telecoms empire.

"Sales of land and apartments at Port Ghalib have been delayed by the crisis. Of course we have been affected by the crisis, but less than others, and we are still making operational profits. And things are improving every day", said Mr. Kharafi.