x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Saudis and Batelco in bid to keep Zain deal alive

Saudi's Kingdom Holding and Bahrain's Batelco have launched a joint bid for Zain's stake in its Saudi operations.

Etisalat's bid for a controlling stake in Zain was given a boost yesterday after two Arab companies launched a joint bid for the Kuwaiti telecommunications operator's Saudi operations.

Bahrain's Batelco and Kingdom Holding, the investment company controlled by the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, made a joint bid for Zain's stake in Zain Saudi Arabia. The two companies previously made separate bids for the stake, which were rejected by Zain last month.

The non-binding offer by Batelco and Kingdom Holding and a preliminary expression of interest will be valid until 9am today, Kingdom Holding said in a statement to the Saudi bourse, according to Bloomberg News.

The move has renewed hopes Etisalat may succeed in its bid for a 46 per cent share of the Kuwaiti telecoms company.

In November, Etisalat offered to acquire a majority stake in Zain. But one of the conditions of that was a sale of Zain's stake in Zain Saudi Arabia because the UAE company operates Mobily, one of Zain's competitors in Saudi Arabia.

Etisalat missed a deadline in its attempt to acquire a majority stake in Zain for US$11.7 billion (Dh42.97bn), although it has indicated it is still interested in buying the operator.

* with agencies