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Bharti Airtel Ltd, India's top mobile operator, expects it could have early closure of its $9 billion deal to buy most of Kuwaiti Zain's African operations, Akhil Gupta, a director, said on Wednesday.

Bharti had struck the deal in March to buy the telecoms operations in 15 African countries and expects to become the world's No. 5 mobile firm.

Chairman Sunil Mittal also said in a statement that Bharti was working towards a closure of the Zain transaction at the earliest but the company had not set a timeframe.

The Zain deal must be approved by regulators and governments in at least two of the African markets have weighed in against the deal. There is also a dispute about minority ownership of Zain's operations in Nigeria.

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