Kuwait telco Zain keen on Libya market-chairman

DUBAI, April 7 Sun Apr 7, 2013 4:35am EDT

DUBAI, April 7 (Reuters) - Kuwait's No.1 telecom operator Zain is keen on entering Libya's market, the former monopoly's chairman said on Sunday. Zain currently operates in about eight countries including Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. But it sold assets in about 15 African countries to India's Bharti Airtel for $9 billion in 2010 and entering Libya would mark a return to foreign expansion for the Kuwaiti firm. "We have a study for Libya, we are considering the Libya market at the moment," Zain chairman Asaad Ahmed al-Banwan told reporters outside the company's annual shareholder meeting on Sunday. Libya's telecom sector remains in state hands. Government-controlled Libyan Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Co (LIPTIC) owns the country's two mobile operators Al Madar and Libyana as well as Libya's main internet provider, with the telecoms sector isolated from much foreign competition during Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule. Libya had planned to tender a management contract for LIPTIC, which is seen as a prelude to privatisation by analysts, but this tender has been put on hold, Ahmad Julfar, the chief executive of Etisalat - the United Arab Emirate's top operator - said in March. It was unclear whether the contract Julfar referred to included all of LIPTIC and its subsidiaries. (Reporting by Sylvia Westall in Kuwait; Writing by Matt Smith in Dubai; Editing by David French)

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