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Omantel increases stake in Zain to push MENA “powerhouse” plan

Omantel increases stake in Zain to push MENA “powerhouse” plan

Omantel has increased its holding in Zain Group, obtaining a 12.1% stake for $1.35 billion.

This pushes Omantel’s overall holding in Zain up to 21.9%, making it the second-largest shareholder in the Kuwaiti company with its total stake valued at $2.19 billion. In August, Omantel acquired its initial 9.84% stake in Zain for $846 million.

Omantel is the largest operator in Oman, with a market share of 58%. Its largest single shareholder is Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund, which has a stake of nearly 25%. The only other operator in the market is Ooredoo; the issue of a third licence has stalled while the regulator investigates Omantel’s interest in Zain.

“Our new scale and diversification will allow us to focus on digital transformation, to generate further revenue growth and accelerate the introduction of innovation products and services that will enable our region to digitise,” said Omantel CEO Talal Said Marhoon Al Mamari, adding that increasing Omantel’s stake in Zain would create “a new digital telecom powerhouse capable of leading digital transformation across the MENA region”.

Combined with Zain’s existing operations across Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait, Omantel’s tie-up with the Kuwaiti group means that between them, the pair will have 52 million subscribers. Collectively this makes them the third largest group in the MENA region.

In October, Omantel signed a share purchase agreement to acquire 521,975,146 ordinary shares in Zain at approximately $2.58 per share. The offer by the Al Khair National For Stocks And Real Estate Company instigated a formal public auction process as required by Kuwaiti law, which has now been resolved.