India-Malaysia group to buy 46 per cent in Kuwait's Zain for $13.7 billion

A consortium of the Vavasi Group, telecom firms Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam and Malaysian billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary is closing in on a 46 per cent stake in Zain, Kuwait's largest telephone company.

The Kharafi group has about 20 per cent stake in Zain and along with other shareholders is offering a total 46 per cent stake in the Kuwaiti firm.

Zain is planning to sell 46 per cent stake at 2 dinars ($6.97) a share for a total of $13.7 billion, group firm National Investments Co said in a statement to the Kuwait Stock Exchange.

Vavasi Telegence Pvt Ltd managing director Farid Arifuddin said Khorafi Group firm Al-Khair, which owns a 10.86 per cent stake in Zain, is leading the sale. He said the agreement is preliminary and the price hasn't yet been set.

State-owned telecs BSNL and MTNL are expected to join the Vavasi-led group but are yet to make a formal entry. A deal would give the group 69.5 million new customers across 24 countries in the Middle East and Africa.

The Vavasi group has already signed a "transaction agreement"  with the Malaysian group, Arifuddin said.