Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Bharti Airtel in bid for Zain's African assets

A man talks on his mobile phone next to a Bharti Airtel sign
A deal between Bharti Airtel and South Africa's MTN broke down last year

Indian mobile phone company Bharti Airtel has offered to buy Kuwaiti telecommunications firm Zain's African assets for $10.7bn (£6.8bn).

In a statement, Bharti said the two companies would now enter into talks which would last until 25 March.

The offer does not include Zain's operations in Morocco or Sudan, Bharti said.

Zain operates in 15 African countries including Nigeria and Chad. About 60% of Zain's customers are in Africa.

Zain has a total of 65 million customers, but Africa contributes only 15% to the group's net profit.

"This acquisition is a long-term strategic necessity for Bharti to grow its revenues abroad with the domestic market saturating," telecom analyst Harit Shah at Karvy Stock Broking told the AFP press agency.

The announcement follows the breakdown in September of a $25bn deal between Bharti and South Africa's MTN.

Last summer, Zain turned down a bid by French telecom group Vivendi, said to be worth between $10bn and $11bn, saying the offer was not high enough.

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