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Govt. will help Bharti Airtel clinch Zain deal-Khurshid

New Delhi, Feb 17 (Calcutta Tube) Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Wednesday said the government will help telecom major Bharti Airtel in its planned $10.7 billion acquisition of Kuwaiti telecom company Zain’s assets in Africa.

‘The Bharti management has not approached us yet. If they do, I will be happy to help them because when they go out, it is not the company alone. They are our flag-bearers,’ said Khurshid at a conference organised by FICCI here.

 

This is Bharti’s third such attempt to enter the largely untapped African market after failing to enter into a merger pact with South Africa’s MTN on two occasions.

 

‘We will do the utmost what we can,’ said Khurshid adding that the company had still not approached them for any sort of help.

 

The total deal size is $10.7 billion and will include paying off estimated debt of almost $1.7 billion. A year after the deal closes, the company will pay $700 million out of the total payable amount.

 

Both parties have also agreed to a break-fee of $150 million in case either side pulls out of the deal.

 

Bharti Airtel, which has been on the lookout for an overseas acquisition for over two years now, said last month it would acquire a 70-percent controlling stake in the Bangladesh-based Warid Telecom to expand its global footprint.

 

The company had late last year failed to strike a deal for the second time with South African telecom giant MTN.

 

The MTN deal, worth some $24 billion in cash and equity, had called for Bharti to get 49-percent stake in MTN, and the South African firm and its shareholders 36 percent equity in the Indian telecom major. But it got stuck because of the different policies followed by the two countries.

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