(MENAFN - Arab Times) A Kuwaiti court voided Zain's April annual shareholders meeting on Sunday, upholding a case brought by a former board member who opposed the election process but said the decision will not derail sale of Zain's Saudi stake, a company source said.
In April, Zain elected a new board including a top executive from Kuwait's family conglomerate Kharafi Group, and approved a 3 billion dividend for 2010.
The dividend has already been distributed. The court case centred on the manner in which the new board was elected.
A lawyer for Sheikh Khalifa Ali al-Khalifa al-Sabah, who was not re-elected in April, said on Sunday the decision was a first degree ruling.
"The ruling is specifically about the elections of the board members," said Rashed al-Radaan, Sheikh Khalifa's lawyer.
A Zain company source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the firm will appeal the ruling.
"The ruling shocked the board ... but the company will appeal immediately," the source said.
A Zain spokesman declined to comment, saying it was an issue between a shareholder and the board.
Last year, Sheikh Khalifa filed a lawsuit to halt due diligence in a 12 billion deal to sell a 46-percent stake in Zain to the UAE's Etisalat. The deal fell apart in March after Etisalat walked away.
Another Zain source told Reuters that the board was not given enough time to present its documents to the court, but was confident about the appeal.
"We will have a chance in the appeal to provide a clearer picture and we are very confident about it," said the source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
A sideline of the failed Etisalat deal was to sell Zain's 25-percent stake in Zain Saudi and the ruling will not affect that, the company source said.
Zain plans to sell its stake in indebted affiliate Zain Saudi to joint bidders Kingdom Holding and Bahrain Telecommunications Co.
Zain's shares closed down 1 percent on the Kuwaiti bourse on Sunday after the ruling.
The lawsuit was based on a commerce ministry report which cited a number of alleged illegal actions at the April meeting, Radaan said.
The ruling is not final as it can still be challenged before the appeals and supreme courts.
If confirmed, Zain, which is currently negotiating to sell its operations in Saudi Arabia, will have to hold a new general assembly meeting and elect a new board of directors.