Kuwait-based Zain Telecom on Saturday said closing the $10.7-billion deal with Bharti Airtel to sell its African assets could take months although it will be signed in the next few days.
"The deal will be signed in the next few days ... (but) the closing of the deal could take weeks or months, for our assets to be transferred under a new name which is Bharti," Zain Chairman Asaad Al-Banwan said in an interview to TV channel Al Arabiya.
Al-Banwan also said the company’s shareholders were expected to get a cash dividend from the sale, if the board approves. "There will be good dividends for the shareholders."
He added that the returns from the deal will be booked in 2010 only.
Following Zain board's approval for the deal, Bharti had announced that it would sign soon "definitive agreements" to acquire African operations of Zain and that it had secured funds for the transaction.
"Bharti is now working with Zain towards finalising the definitive agreements which would address all key terms and findings arising out of the due diligence," India's biggest private sector mobile operator had said on March 25.
The same day Zain in a statement had said that "the Board is pleased to report that due diligence process has been completed and the parties are finalising definitive agreements, which are expected to be signed in the coming days".
When asked Bharti Enterprises Vice Chairman and Managing Director Rajan Bharti Mittal Helsinki yesterday had said the agreement would be "hopefully" signed "soon".
With the acquisition, Bharti Airtel will enter the world's fastest growing market in Africa, after its two attempts to buy MTN failed. The two businesses combined will have more than 165 million subscribers with total revenue of $13 billion. The deal with Bharti excludes Zain's operation in Sudan and investment in Morocco.