BSNL, MTNL back Vavasi consortium's bid for Zain stake

Kuwait's Kharafi Group, which owns a majority stake in the West Asia-based Zain Telecom, said it has received official confirmation from India's state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL) to acquire a stake in its African operations.

"The Kharafi Group has received an official letter stating that BSNL and MTNL are interested in participating in the proposal for buying up to 46 per cent of Zain's shares from the Kharafi Group," said VC Bader al-Kharafi of the Kharafi Group.

Zain, Kuwait's biggest telephone company, is also reported to have halted talks to sell its African operations following a request by the Indian-Malaysian consortium interested in buying a 46 per cent stake in the company, Al-Watan reported.

India-based Vavasi group and Malaysian billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary had, last month, signed a preliminary agreement to acquire a 46 per cent stake in Zain and the consortium had claimed support from BSNL and MTNL for the bid.

BSNL and MTNL had, however, refuted any immediate plans to acquire stake in the Kuwait-based telecom firm.

Kuwait's Khorafi Group, one of Zain's largest shareholders, has signed a preliminary agreement with India's Vavasi Group and Malaysian billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary to sell a majority stake in Zain.