By Andy Sambidge
Telcos sign agreement to expand UK operator's presence in MidEast; Zain to use Vodafone brand
Kuwait's Zain Group and UK-based Vodafone Group on Monday announced an agreement that will provide Zain customers with greater support in Vodafone's global footprint and significantly expand Vodafone's presence in the Middle East.
Under the non-equity partnership agreement, Vodafone will work with Zain companies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq to provide customers with high quality communications services.
The move will enhance both Zain and Vodafone's ability to meet growing demand among multinational businesses for sophisticated voice and data communications solutions as well as advanced roaming services within the Middle East, the companies said in a statement.
This will complement Vodafone's own regional operations in Egypt and Qatar and increase the number of countries in which Vodafone has partner market agreements to more than 50, the statement added.
Zain will have access to Vodafone's devices and services in its home markets and become the preferred partner of Vodafone in respect of the agreed areas of cooperation.
Zain and Vodafone will also work together to provide customers with enhanced network coverage, harmonised roaming rates across multiple countries with greater cost efficiencies. Zain will also be able to use the Vodafone brand.
"The partnership with Vodafone will allow Zain to bring tangible benefits to both its customers and employees," said Zain Group deputy CEO and chief operating officer Hisham Akbar.
He added: "This groundbreaking agreement will give our customers innovative products and services from around the world.
"At the same time, Vodafone's commercial insights and technical expertise will translate into significant operational efficiencies for Zain over the long-term as we transition our networks to next generation networks and beyond."
Ravinder Takkar, CEO, Vodafone Partner Markets, added: "Our agreement with Zain provides an opportunity for Vodafone to build its presence and work with a leading operator in the Middle East.
"By combining the geographical reach of our companies' respective networks, we can strengthen and deepen the benefits to our customers operating in these large and dynamic markets."
Vodafone, the world's biggest mobile operator by sales, has been seeking new agreements with local operators to spread its coverage while avoiding expensive buyouts or heavy investments.
Zain has mobile network operating licences in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq and Jordan, while Vodafone's presence in the region is limited to Qatar, Egypt and Libya.
Zain is one of those brands that had it all - except for serious and ambitious shareholders (especially Kharafi, whose short sightedness essentially destroyed the company). ZAIN had the potential to be a global brand - but its done failed miserably.
This deal with Vodafone is the last nail in its coffin. Its self-defeating to promote Vodafone when you own a brand that really could still be resurrected with a good CEO who had the freedom from the Board to do what made business sense. ZAIN get nothing really from this deal - the so-called benefits that Ravinder refers to are really meaningless and have no affect on the ZAIN bottom line.
Good bye ZAIN. Sad to see you go...