The Nation (Nairobi)

Africa: Zain Reviews Operations

Nairobi — The Zain Group is conducting a strategic review of its African assets with the aim of maximising shareholders value.

This follows a number of bids that it has received for the acquisition of its operations across 16 countries on the continent. According to Zain chief executive officer Saad Al Barrak the group is considering approaches that will achieve value to owners.

"We have received expressions of interest from several parties and other operators to acquire Zain operations in Africa. The directors of Zain have been discussing such matters and will consider any proposals that may be submitted," said Mr Barrak. Prospects of selling the African operations of the group have been growing over the past months.

Earlier in the week, Vivendi, one of the suitors halted talks with Zain under unexplained circumstances. Mr Barrak's statement was contained in their first half of 2009 results in which the group recorded a 24.1 per cent increase in revenue. In the results, the year-on-year customer base grew by 37 per cent to top 69.5 million customers.

"Despite a challenging environment imposed by the global economic crisis, foreign currency fluctuations and the competitive markets in which we operate, the group was still able to achieve impressive and realistic levels of revenues," said the chief executive.

Over the past few years, Zain has invested in network expansion and service offerings such as One Network.

This, the group notes, has resulted in robust customer number growth and healthy revenues, a strategy that Mr Barrak was key to their success.

"We expect to reap further financial rewards from these network investments not only in the second half of 2009, but in the years ahead with our One Network playing a vital role in such growth," he said.

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