Dubai: Etisalat will probably miss the deadline for a final accord on its $12 billion (Dh44.04 billion) offer for control of Zain because it doesn't have adequate commitments from shareholders of the Kuwaiti company, five people involved in the talks said.
The bid by etisalat to buy about 46 per cent of Zain, will expire unless enough shareholders of Kuwait's largest phone operator enter into a definitive agreement by tomorrow. Etisalat has commitments from Zain investors with about 40 per cent of the company, three of the people said, declining to be identified because the talks are confidential.
Etisalat may extend the offer deadline, although the company's bid could unravel altogether if it doesn't get enough support from Zain shareholders or Zain fails to find a buyer for its stake in a Saudi Arabian unit, one of the people said.
If the deal collapses, it would be second time Zain shareholders will have failed to sell majority control in the company, which operates mobile-phone services in Middle Eastern markets including Kuwait and Iraq.
"There are other obstacles facing this deal, other than the 46 per cent stake which is still not gathered; obstacles like the sale of Zain Saudi," said Shaikh Khalifa Ali Al Sabah, whose Al Fawares Holding Co owns a 4.5 per cent stake in Zain.
Etisalat Chairman Mohammad Omran declined to comment on the deal in Dubai.
Al Khair, which is owned by Kuwait's Kharafi Group and is leading the Zain stake sale, could not be reached for comment.
It is Zain's second-biggest shareholder with a 12.7 per cent stake. The Kuwait Investment Authority sovereign-wealth fund owns 24.6 per cent, Bloomberg data shows.
Etisalat has said the deal is unlikely to close before the end of the first quarter this year. It has also said Zain needs to sell its 25 per cent stake in Mobile Telecommunications Company of Saudi Arabia in a "timely fashion" for the deal to move forward.
Complicating the talks, Zain shareholder Al Fawares's Shaikh Khalifa, who has opposed the etisalat deal, said on Wednesday that he's seeking other buyers.