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Kuwait Zain receives third bid for Saudi unit

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 15, 2011 – Kuwait\’s Zain telecom has received a third offer for the purchase of its 25-percent stake in Zain Saudi Arabia, this time from a Saudi consortium, the company said on Tuesday.

The consortium led by Al-Riyadh Group has made a non-binding offer, Zain said in a statement on the Kuwait Stock Exchange website, without giving further details.

Zain has two similar offers from Kingdom Holding of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Bahrain\’s Batelco, both of which are valid until Wednesday.

The Zain board of directors is expected to make a decision on Wednesday on its stake in Zain Saudi Arabia, whose sale is a precondition for the conclusion of a $12-billion deal with Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates.

Etisalat offered in November to acquire a majority stake in Zain and made the sale of the Zain Saudi Arabia stake a precondition because the Emirati firm operates Mobily, one of Zain\’s competitors in the Saudi telecoms market.

Zain operates or manages mobile telecom services in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Sudan.

Last year, Kuwait\’s largest mobile operator sold operations in 15 African countries to India\’s Bharti Airtel for $10.7 billion.

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