Arab Today, arab today kuwait\s kharafi will stick with zain holding
Last Updated : GMT 12:46:50
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Kuwait\'s Kharafi: will stick with Zain holding

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Kuwait\'s Kharafi: will stick with Zain holding

Kuwait City - Arabstoday

Major Zain shareholder Kharafi Group, which has twice tried to sell its stake in the Kuwaiti telecoms operator, will now stick with its holding as the firm embarks on expansion plans. Bader al-Kharafi, whose family and related companies are thought to control about a quarter of Zain, and who sits on the company\'s board, also said that Zain would not be selling any of its seven mobile licences and planned to acquire Internet service providers to boost data revenue. Kharafi\'s family conglomerate, which directly owns about 16 percent of the telecoms group, remains committed to Zain, he said, dismissing speculation the family needed to sell up. Kharafi Group has led two consortia that agreed to sell a controlling stake in Zain. The last deal, a $12bn sale to the UAE\'s Etisalat, collapsed in March. When asked if the family was looking to sell its holdings in Zain, Kharafi said: \"No, we are not.\" Kharafi has emerged as a higher profile figure in the family conglomerate since the death of his father, Nasser al-Kharafi, in April. The senior Kharafi built a business empire that spans real estate, retail and financial services and is core to the Gulf state\'s economy. It owns stakes in Kuwait Food Co, National Investments Co and National Industries Group. Kharafi said Zain would focus on implementing a new strategy, which has been approved by the board and management. \"We are keeping all the assets and we are focusing on improving them and investing in them,\" Kharafi said in an interview at his Kuwait City office. \"The board is aligned. This is a new board and we have approved our new vision, which is going into data, acquiring ISPs (internet service providers) and submarine cables.\" Bitter disagreement among Zain\'s board over the Etisalat deal was among the reasons the UAE operator walked away. Zain shareholders elected a new board in April, including Kharafi, prompting one former member who was not re-elected and had opposed the Etisalat deal to launch legal action. A Kuwaiti court in September ruled the board meeting void, but Zain has appealed and the latest hearing is expected this week. \"We are confident we did everything by the book and according to the laws and regulations,\" said Kharafi, acknowledging that Zain\'s day-to-day operations were affected by the protracted Etisalat discussions. \"During the year we were working on the deal, there wasn\'t really a vision of putting more capex [capital expenditure],\" said Kharafi. \"It was tough to make such huge decisions on behalf of the company during that process.\" In 2010, Zain sold most of its African assets to India\'s Bharti Airtel for $9bn, reducing its footprint from 23 countries to just seven and ending its plans to become a top 10 global telecom player. The deal enabled Zain to pay out about $5.78bn in two dividends.

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