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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bharti Airtel, Zain achieve closure of $10.7 bn deal

India's largest telco by both customers and revenues, Bharti Airtel will announce the closure of its $10.7 billion deal to buy out Kuwaiti telecom Zain's African on Tuesday.

The closure gives Bharti control of Zain's operations in all the 15 African markets that it operates in. It implies that Bharti has wrapped up approvals from the governments and regulators of each of the these 15 nations. Top Zain executives are in New Delhi today for the closure.

has also learnt that a 40-member management team from Bharti Airtel headed by its CEO for international operations, Manoj Kohli will soon relocate to Kenyan capital Nairobi, the city chosen by the telco to base its African headquarters. This management team will work with Zain's top executives in all 15 countries where it offers services in Africa and oversee its operations.

With Zain Africa's 42 million customers, Bharti Airtel will have over 180 million subscribers, making it the world's fifth-largest mobile phone operator. The deal will also give Bharti a firm foothold in the relatively untapped African market and the combine will have revenues of $13 billion and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of around $5 billion.

The $10.7-billion deal, including $1.7 billion of Zain's debt, was signed in Amsterdam, the base of Zain's African unit on March 30. Bharti Airtel will pay $ 8.3 billion once the transfer of assets is completed and another $700 million after one year. Late last month, Bharti Airtel said it had started drawing down funds from lenders to complete its purchase of Zain's African assets. The closure means Bharti has made the payments to Zain.

The tariff war that has plagued India's telecoms space over the last one year has lowered profits and valuations of most mobile firms in India, forcing the likes of Bharti Airtel to look for attractive options outside the country.

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