" ITREALMS: Bharti Airtel seals deal on Zain Africa

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bharti Airtel seals deal on Zain Africa

* Appoints Otudeko chairman in Nigeria

In fulfillment of the desire to acquire Zain African operations, the Indian telecom giant, Bharti Airtel Limited, has finally sealed the deal by making relevant payment.

The Asian leading telecom giant, Bharti Airtel, had in March 30, this year, announced its decision to acquire Zain Africa BV and entered into an understanding worth USD 10.7 billion, about N 1,620,429,368,652.34.

This came as the founding Chairman, Econet Wireless Nigeria Limited and director of Celtel Nigeria Limited, which acquired the network and rebranded in 2007 to Zain, Mr. Oba Otudeko, has been returned as the chairman, Zain Nigeria in order to wield off the long standing dispute between him and Zain in the country.

With the latest, Bharti Airtel becomes the first Indian telecom assume global operator status with the completion of the largest cross continent transaction in emerging markets, which also positioned Bharti as the fifth largest mobile operators in the world.

Conclusion of the acquisition of African operation gives Bharti access to 15 Zain operating countries on the continent and is expected to jack Bharti subscriber-base to over 180 million.

The General Manager, Corporate Communications, Bharti Airtel India, Mr. Senjam Raj Sekhar in a press statement made available to Daily Champion on Tuesday, said that they were pleased to announce a significant development in Nigeria as a follow up to the conclusion of the deal on Zain African operations.

According to Sekhar in a press statement made available endorsed by the Public Relations Manager, Zain Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Otokohine, this development brought to an end the long standing disputes on multiple fronts by its main local partner, Broad Communications Group and its affiliates, owned, controlled and managed by Mr. Oba Otudeko and his family.

“This has been satisfactorily settled. Mr. Otudeko will also be appointed as the chairman of our company in Nigeria,” Sekhar said, noting that this would give way for the aggressive development of the operation and businesses in the country, which is one of the largest growth markets in the world.

As said by Sekhar, Mr. Otudeko, who is a highly regarded business leader in Nigeria, is expected to bring all his resources to make the teleco a leader in mobile telephony in the country.

He quoted the group chairman, Bharti Airtel, Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, as saying that this was in line with Bharti’s philosophy of forging long term, strategic partnerships, hence they were delighted to have joined hands with its local partner in Nigeria, Mr. Oba Otudeko and his family.

“I have no doubt that this partnership will ensure leadership for Bharti in Nigeria for the benefit of all stakeholders,” Mittal declared at the conclusion of the deal and dispute in Nigeria operation, noting that Bharti has been working towards its vision of expansion into Africa, and reiterated commitment to contribute to the growth of telecom in the region by taking networks deep into these countries and providing affordable services that touch the common man.

“We also promise our customers in Africa a superior brand experience and a portfolio of innovative products & services,” he asserted, assuring that the over 6,500 talented and highly qualified professionals are welcome to the Bharti family as he looks forward to working with them to take these operations from strength to strength.

“We would like to thank the Zain team for their professionalism, which enabled us to close this transaction in a record time,” he said.

Responding, Mr. Oba Otudeko said they also welcome Bharti Airtel as new partner.

“We welcome Bharti Airtel as our new partner. I am aware of the leadership that Airtel has established in the telecom space and I am keenly looking for them to bring their expertise in the mobile telephony for the benefit of Nigeria and its people,” he said.

Equally commenting on the latest deal, Chairman, Zain Group, Mr. Asaad Al-Banwan, said they wish Bharti Airtel great success in continuing the development of telecommunications across the African continent and expressed confident that the people of Africa will welcome such a committed and reputable telecom powerhouse.

Bharti’s acquisition of Zain’s African mobile services operations covers 15 countries with a total customer base of over 42 million. The total population base covered is over 450 million with telecom penetration of approximately 32 per cent.

The countries in which Bharti has acquired the operations include Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Additionally, Zain is reported to be the market leader in 10 of the 15 countries and second in four countries, hitherto.

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