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Zain Africa Not for Sale, CEO Says

November 12, 2009 • Mobile and Telecoms

Zain’s African operations are not for sale and the company, Kuwait’s biggest phone carrier, will continue to build its business on the continent, Chris Gabriel, the chief executive officer of Zain Africa, said.

Kuwait’s biggest phone carrier is planning to become one of the top 10 global mobile operators by 2011.

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Chris Gabriel, CEO of Zain Africa
Zain had dropped its plans to sell its operations across 13 African nations at the request of potential buyers of a stake in the company, Gabriel said.

“Zain Africa is not for sale,” Gabriel said at a conference today in Cape Town. “In terms of Zain and our leadership, we’re focused on our objectives to become a top 10 global mobile player by 2011. There is absolutely no loss of focus on investment and no lack of resolve on the part of leadership to develop Africa.”
“If shareholders decide to sell it’s entirely up to them,” Gabriel said. “Shareholder matters are outside of the scope of my responsibility.”
Paris-based Vivendi, owner of phone companies SFR and Maroc Telecom, had been interested in acquiring majority stake in Zain Africa, formely called Celtel. The talks fell through after the parties failed to agree on the price.
Africa “remains a growth engine” for Zain, Gabriel said. The company still has an “appetite for expansion.”
While there are acquisition opportunities, there is a “great gap” between what buyers are willing to pay and what sellers expect. “It’s a matter of working through that process and where we have a value accretive opportunity we will progress,” Gabriel said.
Zain fell 3.8 percent to 1,020 fils on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, paring its gain this year to 21 percent.

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