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Etisalat's Zain bid serious says Kharafi

Kuwait, November 10, 2010

A major shareholder of Kuwait's Zain defended Etisalat's $12 billion offer to buy 46 percent of the telecoms carrier, questioning why another big Zain stakeholder pulled out of the deal and criticised it.

In a dispute playing out in dueling Kuwaiti newspaper advertisements, the Kharafi Group's Al Khair National for Stocks and Real Estate posted an ad in the Al-Jarida daily on Wednesday saying Etisalat was an international company and its offer was beyond doubt.   

A day earlier on Tuesday, Al Fawares Holding -- which is estimated to own less than five percent of Zain -- accused Zain's management of failing to gauge the seriousness of Etisalat and threatened to take the matter to court.

'We ask an innocent question: could keenness for shareholder interest be shown by ... throwing doubts on a deal which if successful would give generous returns to every shareholder?' the Kharafi company said in Wednesday's ad, adding that it welcomed any legal action and believes the country's judiciary was 'the safe haven for all.'    

'(Al Fawares) is one of those who approved entering the deal and the National Investments Co (NIC) has a letter from them to prove they wanted to enter the deal with up to 100 million shares,' Al Khair said.

On Sunday, Zain's board approved opening its books for due diligence by Etislat, which has offered to buy 46 percent of the company in a deal worth just under $12 billion.   

Al Fawares, the opposing shareholder, said a 2009 offer from an Indian-led consortium to buy a stake in Zain turned out to be 'not serious' and caused losses to shareholders. Selling Zain's Saudi assets is one of the deal's conditions. - Reuters




Tags: Etisalat | Kharafi | Zain | telecom. stake sale |

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