The move would come as a surprise given that the company has stressed how integral its presence in Africa is to its tactical plans.

In July this year, French telecoms company Vivendi – which owns Universal Music among other investments – called off a planned $10bn deal to acquire Zain’s African operations, though at the time sources stated that the collapsed negotiations were temporary and dialogue would resume.

Advertisement

Vivendi’s primary mobile business is in France, where its SFR brand is the second largest phone operator behind France Telecom’s Orange.

In an already saturated French market, experts believe Vivendi has its eye on emerging markets, and the African continent, which is one of the fastest growing markets on the planet, would perfectly fit the bill.

Last year saw all of Zain’s African properties – which boast 40 million subscribers – rebranded with the company’s colours. Market watchers believed that this indicated the company was investing in the continent for the long term.

Zain had no comment at the time fDi Magazine went to press.

Ginanne Brownell