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Mobile

Zain Stake on the Block

9:35 AM -- Kuwait's mobile operator Zain Group is poised to make financial history in the Gulf region's telecom sector as some of its shareholders prepare to sell a 46 percent stake in the company that is valued at $13.7 billion, according to reports. Such a transaction would be one of the largest ever in the Gulf region, says the Financial Times.

The Kuwaiti operator with a substantial footprint in the Middle East and Africa, operates in 24 countries and has more than 70 million mobile customers. Zain's shareholders recently approved new rules that would allow foreign owners to acquire larger shares in the company. (See Telecom Market Spotlight: Middle East, Who Does What: Middle East Carriers, and Zain Bets Billions on Emerging Markets.)

But it is unclear exactly which shareholders are involved in the 46 percent stake sell-off and who the buyers might be. Etisalat and India's Reliance Communications Ltd. , which have been linked with a stake in Zain, have reportedly denied interest in the group. Vivendi recently flirted with acquiring Zain's African assets, but those talks ended in July. (See Vivendi Wants Zain's African Assets.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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