IHS and Zain complete $130m tower sale and leaseback deal

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Zain Group has completed the sale and leaseback of the passive physical infrastructure of its 1,620 mobile towers for $130 million to IHS Holding Limited.

“This historical transaction unlocks value for shareholders as it gives us greater flexibility to focus on higher yielding digital investments, 5G expansion and operational efficiencies in Kuwait,” said Bader Al-Kharafi, vice-chairman and group CEO of Zain. “It also supports Zain’s transformational strategy in becoming a digital lifestyle provider through optimizing service delivery and enhancing customer experience.”

Officially approved by Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) and Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA), IHS and Zain have formed a new operating company called IHS Kuwait.

IHS will own a majority stake in HIS Kuwait with operational control of the company, while Zain retains a minority interest.  

“We are delighted to have successfully concluded this transaction with Zain and look forward to a long and successful partnership over the coming years in Kuwait and potentially beyond,” said Sam Darwish, IHS chairman and group chief executive officer.

IHS Kuwait will be responsible for owning, maintaining, managing, marketing and expanding the newly acquired passive telecommunication infrastructure. Zain will retain its intelligent software, technology and intellectual property with respect to managing the network.

“With its extensive infrastructure, IHS Kuwait is well positioned to benefit from IHS’ strong operating capabilities and service offering in the rapidly developing Middle East telecoms sector, a region we hope to be a key partner too over the long-term,” added Darwish.

The deal marks the first sale and leaseback of telecoms towers in the Middle East by a licenced mobile operator, it also creates the first independent tower operator of scale in the GCC region.

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