Etisalat’s bid for Zain is looking more likely to go ahead.

According to a source at the Abu-Dhabi-based telecoms provider, “Zain does not have a choice, it will only be a matter of time before Etisalat takes over, perhaps in a week.”

Etisalat plans to buy 46 per cent of the Kuwaiti telecoms giant, the third largest in the Gulf. It is offering $6 per share, valuing the deal at nearly $12bn.

If the deal goes ahead, Etisalat will have to sell off the Saudi Arabian unit in order to comply with regulations in the country since the firm already owns a stake in Mobily, another Saudi Arabian mobile company.

Zain is selling the stake in order to restructure and pay off its debts. It sold off the majority of its African operations to India’s Bharti Airtel for $9bn in June 2010.