Zain and IHS reach first leaseback deal for tower infrastructure in Middle East

Zain and IHS reach first leaseback deal for tower infrastructure in Middle East

Kuwait’s Zain has partnered with Towershare in a deal to sell and lease back its local mobile towers to IHS Holding Limited for US$165 million.

The deal will see the operator create a new entity – in which Zain will assume a minority shareholding - that will acquire and manage Zain’s tower assets in Kuwait. The transaction has been approved by Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) but requires other regulatory and statutory approvals. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

IHS is the largest independent tower operator in Europe, Middle East and Africa by tower count, and the third largest independent multinational tower company globally. Zain has more than 1,600 mobile telecommunication towers located in strategic locations across Kuwait, and this transaction will enable Zain to focus on its core business and customers while accelerating its investments in cutting edge telecom technologies to help meet growing mobile data demand.

Under the terms of the transaction, Zain is selling only its passive, physical infrastructure to the new company and will retain its intelligent software, technology and intellectual property with respect to managing its network.

Upon completion, the transaction will be the first sale and leaseback of telecom towers in the Middle East region by a licensed mobile operator, and creates the first independent tower operator of scale in the region.  The deal is part of IHS’ broader strategy to apply its operational expertise from its international portfolio further throughout emerging markets. The newly formed entity will be responsible for maintaining and expanding Zain’s tower footprint across Kuwait.

Bader Al-Kharafi, Vice-Chairman and Group CEO of Zain said, “This deal will unlock value that can be more efficiently deployed in new technologies and higher yielding investments for Zain, and at the same time pave the way for further network expansion and tower infrastructure sharing in Kuwait.” 

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