(Adds analyst comments, background)
KUWAIT, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Kuwaiti telecoms firm Zain (ZAIN.KW) is in talks with three major telecoms firms, including one from India, to sell all or part of its African operations, its chief executive told Kuwait daily newspaper Al-Rai.
A Zain spokesman was unavailable for comment.
Zain, which is in the midst of a strategic review and is being advised by investment bank UBS UBSN.VX, plans an extraordinary general meeting on Aug. 31 when shareholders will be asked to vote on amending its ownership restrictions.
The move would pave the way for selling a large stake in the firm. [nLG32521]
Barrak told Rai newspaper the changes were necessary for the firm to fit in with the competitive nature of Kuwait’s economy, regardless of acquisition talks.
The Kuwaiti firm said last month it was reviewing a possible sale of its African operations -- minus Morocco and Sudan -- after French media and telecoms giant Vivendi (VIV.PA) called off talks to buy a majority stake in the African business.
Media reports this month said Zain shareholders were in talks with an Asian telecoms group to sell stakes in Kuwait’s biggest mobile operator. Zain’s biggest shareholders are Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund and family-owned conglomerate, the Kharafi Group.
Gulf Arab rival Etisalat ETEL.AD has said it was interested in taking a majority stake in Zain itself, according to the head of its international unit. Prime Holdings analyst Sleiman Aboulhosn said Etisalat may be content to cherry pick some of Zain’s assets in the region, given regulatory restrictions on a wholesale purchase.
“Etisalat cannot buy the ones that co-exist with its own assets, for example in Nigeria,” he said in Dubai. “So they might be interested in some parts.”
(Reporting by Eman Goma, editing by Will Waterman)
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