March 27, 2010 / 10:32 AM / 7 years ago

Zain, Bharti deal could take months to close: chairman

2 Min Read

<p>A man pulls a cycle-rickshaw with goods in front of a shop with boards of Bharti Airtel in Kolkata February 18, 2010.Parth Sanyal</p>

KUWAIT (Reuters) - The closing of the deal between Kuwaiti telecom firm Zain (ZAIN.KW) and India's Bharti Airtel (BRTI.BO) could take weeks or months, Zain's chairman was quoted on Saturday as saying.

"The deal will be signed in the next few days ... (but) the closing of the deal could take weeks or months, for our assets to be transferred under a new name which is Bharti," Zain Chairman Asaad al-Banwan told Al Arabiya television in an interview aired on Saturday.

Zain is about to sell its African assets, excluding Sudan and Morocco, to Bharti for $9 billion, finally giving the Indian buyer a much sought-after foothold in Africa's fast-growing market.

Banwan said shareholders were expected to get a cash dividend from the sale, but it still needed approval of the firm's board.

"There will be good dividends for the shareholders," Banwan said, reiterating that the returns from the deal will be booked in 2010, not 2009. The firm is yet to announce its 2009 results.

Last month, Zain said it would make $9 billion from the assets sale, $4 billion of which will be used to pay off debt, and the remaining $5 billion will be pocketed by the firm.

On Wednesday, the Kuwaiti firm said the due diligence for the deal had been completed and that it would be signed in a few days.

Exclusive talks between the two firms for the African assets sale expired on March 25.

Editing by Jason Benham and Mike Peacock

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