RIYADH (AFP) – Kingdom Holding said on Monday it has offered to buy the Saudi operations of Zain, opening a way for the UAE’s Etisalat to acquire a majority stake in the Kuwaiti-based mobile telecoms operator.
The Saudi investment group said it has sent the board of directors of Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C (Zain) a “non-binding offer and a preliminary expression of interest” to acquire the Saudi side of Zain’s business.
In a statement on the Saudi stock exchange’s website, Kingdom Holding — 95 percent owned by Prince Alwaleed, the entrepreneur nephew of King Abdullah — said its offer was valid until February 6, and “conditional on several factors which will be met before a binding offer is made.”
Etisalat offered in November to acquire a majority stake worth 12 billion dollars (nine billion euros) in Zain, so long as Zain disposed of its 25-percent stake in Zain Saudi Arabia.
Etisalat holds a majority stake in Mobily, one of Zain’s competitors in the Saudi mobile telecoms market.
Zain operates or manages mobile telecoms services in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.