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Zain to focus on Middle East market
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Feb 23, 2010 - 9:32:12 AM

Zain to focus on Middle East market

Press Trust of India / Dubai February 23, 2010, 20:40 IST

Kuwait's telecom firm Zain, which is in exclusive talks with Bharti Airtel for sale of its Africa assets, today said it will focus on expanding in the Middle East market.

"Zain Group has big growth opportunities in the markets of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Sudan," said Nabil bin Salama, who was appointed chief executive earlier this month, said in a statement.

Salama said that the company is also interested in a long-term licence agreement in Lebanon once the government privatises the telecommunications sector.

"The group is not only interested in the Lebanese market, it is also interested in any other opportunities to expand if it gives good returns and conforms with the group's strategy for the new phase."

Zain is in exclusive talks until March 25 with India's Bharti Airtel to sell its Africa operations, excluding Sudan and Morocco, for $10.7 billion, including debt. It expects net proceeds of up to $5 billion from the Africa asset sale after paying certain liabilities and any realised returns will be added to the company's second quarter accounts.

The Africa asset sale will help Zain clinch new investment opportunities, Salama said.

Zain's new Middle East focus is contrary to the path taken by its former CEO Saad Al Barrak, which was aimed at turning the company into a top-ten global player by the end of 2011.

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