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Kuwait-based telecom firm Zain is not concerned over a lawsuit by South Africa-based Econet Wireless disputing the ownership of Zain Nigeria, Zain's chief executive said in remarks published on Monday.

"Saad al-Barrak affirmed that the group is not facing any risk from a legal dispute over Zain Nigeria," al-Rai newspaper reported. "(This issue ) is old and dates back to before 2006."

Last week, Econet said it disputed the purchase in 2006 by Celtel, now called Zain, of a majority stake in a group called Vee Networks Limited, now Zain Nigeria.

Barrak said that Econet has lost similar cases that it had filed in British courts over past years, the newspaper reported.

Zain Nigeria has traded under various brands since 2001 due to a series of boardroom conflicts.

It has been known as Vee Networks, Vmobile, Celtel and now Zain Nigeria.

Econet -- which has operations in nine countries in Africa, Europe and the East Asia Pacific rim -- said in a statement it was pursuing arbitration proceedings because it believed it had been denied its right of first refusal over the stake.

It has now appealed to legal authorities including an international tribunal operating under the auspices of the United Nations for the transaction to be unwound.

Zain, a hot but tricky potential acquisition target for stagnating Western telecoms groups, has invested more than $12 billion in Africa.

Nigeria is the group's biggest market, contributing 21 per cent of customers and 17 per cent of revenues.


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