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AZB, Herbies, Links scoop $10.7bn Bharti-Zain mega-takeover


AZB & Partners has been instructed on Bharti Airtel's $10.7bn bid for the African business of Kuwaiti telecoms group Zain, with Herbert Smith and Linklaters scoring the international advisory mandates for the Indian company's third attempt to enter the continent.

It is understood that Herbert Smith has been drawn in by Bharti Airtel to manage all international legal aspects and due diligence of the deal, which includes 15 African jurisdictions.

Herbert Smith London corporate partners Alan Montgomery and India group chairman Chris Parsons are understood to be leading on the team.

The firm has built a well-respected Africa practice, which is led out of its Paris office.

Linklaters London corporate partner Charlie Jacobs is understood to be leading the team for the Kuwaiti target company Zain.

Jacobs originally comes from South Africa and co-heads the firm's Africa practice group.

AZB already advised on Bharti's ill-fated $23bn mega-merger attempt with South Africa's MTN in 2009, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Platinum Partners had advised MTN. Those talks were scrapped on 30 September 2009.

AZB Delhi partners Ajay Bahl and Gautam Saha, who are the same team that advised Bharti Airtel on the MTN deal, are now understood to have reprised their roles on the Indian company's Zain bid.

AZB, Herbert Smith and Linklaters all declined to comment.

Zain's board accepted an offer made by Bharti Airtel to acquire its African assets last Sunday (14 February).

The Indian company will seek to raise up to $7bn in debt to finance the acquisition, with several banks in the running to provide the financing.

It is understood that law firms are currently preparing to pitch for the advisory mandate to the lending banks.

The exclusivity period of talks between Bharti Airtel and Zain is set to end on 25 March.

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