10:30 AM Will Reliance buy up Zain assets and join Airtel in a race for the African market?

August 18, 2009

1 Min Read
Reliance Dreams of Africa

10:30 AM -- Reliance Communications Ltd. , India's second largest telco by subscriber count, is reported to be eyeing the African assets of Zain Group , which includes 16 operations on that continent.Check out this Economic Times report.

Reliance's official response was predictable, its spokesman saying the company isn't commenting on the situation. However, Zain has conveniently posted this Dow Jones report on its Website, which refers to an Indian company being one of the three international telcos interested in a possible deal.

Quoting banking sources, The Economic Times names that company as Reliance, and, as Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) is engaged in the ongoing saga for a partnership with MTN Group Ltd. , there are few other native Indian telcos with the resources to take on such a major purchase.

But then again, it could also tick the right boxes for Tata Teleservices Ltd. and its minority partner NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), although Tata would find itself in much the same position as Airtel in taking a considerable share in another telco, while trying to keep its own investors happy.

Zain has been looking for a new partner to take the majority share of its African holdings since Vivendi dropped out earlier this year. (See Vivendi Breaks Off Zain Talks.)

Zain is expected to retain its operations in Sudan, which accounted for 12 percent of the group's first-quarter revenues, and its 31 percent share in Morocco's Wana, which was only acquired in March. (See Zain Reports H1.)

— Catherine Haslam, Asia Editor, Light Reading

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