Kuwait-based Zain reported a 4.4 percent rise in net income for the first half of this year, but its results announcement was overshadowed by continued M&A rumours at the firm. For 1H09, Zain reported net income of KWD154.5 million (US$533.5 million), which translated into earnings per share of US$0.14. Revenue rose 24 percent to KWD1.16 billion (US$4.014 billion), while its total customer base rose by 37 percent to 69.5 million. The results included a gain of KWD26.6 million from an IPO in Zambia and losses from currency fluctuations of KWD31.3 million dinars. “Both are an indication that operational net income growth is much higher than 4.4 percent,” said Zain CEO Dr Saad Al Barrak in a statement. However, according to a Reuters report, a Zain spokesperson noted that the company’s goal of 30 percent net profit growth (announced at the beginning of the year) now looked “a little bit ambitious.”

Meanwhile, Zain noted in its earnings results that plans for a possible sale of its African networks were still ongoing despite the news earlier this week that French conglomerate Vivendi had broken off talks. “We have received expression of interest from several parties/other operators to acquire Zain operations in Africa,” noted Dr Al Barrak. He also made reference to “improving currency stability” at many of its African operations. According to Reuters, Zain also moved to deny rumours that it has received a formal acquisition offer from rival Etisalat. The head of Etisalat’s international unit told the news agency on Tuesday that it was interested in buying a 51-percent stake in Zain Group, “given the right values.”