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Fri 8 May 2009 10:17 AM

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Kuwait's Zain to cut 300 jobs

Telecos co to reduce its headcount in Africa's biggest mobile phone market by more than a third.

Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co (Zain) said on Thursday it would cut 300 jobs and outsource 450 others in Nigeria, reducing its headcount in Africa's biggest mobile phone market by more than a third.

Zain had announced on Monday it planned to cut its 15,500 global workforce by about 2,000 through to 2011 to cut costs and boost margins, although many of those employees would continue working as outsourced contractors.

"Zain Nigeria will transfer the services of about 450 employees to strategic partners ... also, 300 employees of the company affected by Zain Nigeria's internal restructuring have been offered exit packages," the firm said in a statement.

A Zain spokesman said the company currently employed around 2,000 people in Nigeria.

Kuwait's top mobile operator has been aggressively expanding and operates in 23 countries in the Middle East and Africa.

It has spent more than $12bn in Africa since 2005, including nearly $3bn in Nigeria, and said it planned to spend up to $2bn more on the continent this year.

But it said this week that it may miss its goal of 30 percent profit growth in 2009 as the global downturn bites.

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as Africa's biggest mobile market with more than 62 million subscribers, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission.

But the market is fiercely competitive, with South Africa's MTN and privately-owned Nigerian firm Glo among Zain's major competitors.

Starcomms Plc, another of the country's biggest mobile telecoms firms, said last month declining average revenue per user (APRU) across the industry as well as a sharp fall in the value of the local naira currency helped push it to a $60m net loss in the first quarter.

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