In what it describes as a regional first, Zain Group, a mobile telecom company working in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, has announced a tower leaseback deal.
Zain’s flagship operation in Kuwait has completed the sale and leaseback of the passive physical infrastructure of its 1,620 mobile tower portfolio for $130 million to IHS Holding Limited (IHS). The transaction is the first sale and leaseback of telecom towers in the Middle East region by a licensed mobile operator.
IHS is one of the largest independent owners, operators and developers of shared telecommunications infrastructure in the world by tower count. Its business includes leading market positions in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia.
The transaction valuation was aimed at helping Zain to maximise efficiency in its operating model, taking into account future lease terms and the expansion of 5G towers across Kuwait. Under the terms of the transaction, Zain is selling only its passive, physical infrastructure to the new entity and will retain its intelligent software, technology and intellectual property with respect to managing its network.
The transaction has been formally approved by Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) and championed by the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), which played a key role in attracting the foreign investment and facilitating the transaction process.