'Bharti board approves $9 bln offer for Zain Africa' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Bharti board approves $9 bln offer for Zain Africa'

india Updated: Mar 20, 2010 21:33 IST

India's Bharti Airtel's board on Saturday approved a $9 billion offer for Kuwaiti telecom Zain's African assets, Bloomberg reported, citing two people with knowledge of the negotiations.

Exclusive talks between Bharti and Zain expire on March 25, marking the third time the Indian firm has tried to get its hands on a meaningful African business after two failed bids for South-Africa's MTN.

On Friday, a source had told Reuters that Bharti Airtel's board was to meet on Saturday to discuss the $9 billion bid and that the two sides might clinch a deal next week.

A company spokesman declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.

Sources had told Reuters the two sides looked to have cleared a potential stumbling block over ownership of Zain's assets in Nigeria, of which it holds 65 percent, and Friday's source had said Bharti might put part of the purchase price in an escrow account to protect it from potential problems.

The Bloomberg report said Bharti intends to make its offer to Zain next week and may ask the Kuwaiti firm to provide legal protection from the Nigeria dispute, though the Indian firm's board had not specifically asked for the protection.

Bharti has been hunting for emerging market assets as its home turf becomes fiercely competitive and call charges plummet in the world's fastest growing mobile market.