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Zain starts closure of African sale

KUWAIT CITY, May 27- Kuwait\’s Zain telecom said on Thursday it has begun procedures to finalise the sale of its operations in 15 African nations to India\’s Bharti Airtel for 10.7 billion dollars (8.7 billion euros).
"We have started implementing procedures for the completion of the preliminary sale agreement we signed with Bharti Airtel at the end of March," Zain chairman Asaad al-Banwan said in a statement.
He said Bharti has begun drawing down the funds to finance the deal.
Zain CEO Nabil bin Salamah said the value of the deal includes 1.7 billion dollars of debt that will be assumed by Bharti Airtel, which will pay the remainder in cash.
"On completion, Zain will repay its four-billion-dollar revolving credit facility and will use the remaining proceeds to attend to other corporate matters," the statement said.
It said that Zain will receive 8.3 billion dollars in cash "within the next few days" and the remaining 700 million dollars will be due one year from completion.
The two telecom giants signed the deal on March 30 for the sale of Zain\’s African operations, except units in Sudan and Morocco.
The company, in which the Kuwaiti government holds a 24.6 percent stake, has expected to post a net profit of 3.3 billion dollars from the sale.
Banwan told the company shareholders on Thursday that a large portion of the returns will be distributed to shareholders and used for future investment opportunities in the Middle East.
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