TAWAL closes United Group acquisition

TAWAL closes United Group acquisition

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Saudi Arabian towerco TAWAL has completed the acquisition of its first sites outside of the MENA region.

As reported by Capacity in April, TAWAL agreed to acquire United Group’s telecoms towers in Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.

That transaction has now closed, which brings TAWAL’s tower sites under management to 20,870.

This is enough sites to make the jump from 27th to 23rd on TowerXchange’s global towerco league-table, the most trusted source of tower counts worldwide.

Specifically, TAWAL have added 4,800 towers to their asset base in Europe, with 3090 sites coming from United Group in Bulgaria. 1020 and 690 towers have been added to their portfolio in Croatia and Slovenia respectively.

From United Group, net proceeds from the transaction amounted to EUR 1,218 million and will be used to fully repay the company’s €525m 2024 Senior Secured Notes and €550m 2025 Senior Secured Notes.

The remaining balance will be directed towards further strengthening United Group’s cash and liquidity position. Furthermore, the company’s liquidity will be further bolstered by additional payments from TowerCo in the amount of EUR 29 million shortly after closing.

United Group and its subsidiaries in the relevant geographies will remain as anchor tenants on towers and rooftops which are part of the transaction.

United Group have also entered into a master services agreement with a 20-year initial term and automatic 8-year renewals thereafter.

Additionally, a Service Level Agreement has been established to ensure our continued use of the telecommunications tower infrastructure following completion of the transaction.

“This is a very attractive deal for United Group and one that enables us to unlock capital from existing non-core infrastructure assets while capitalising on attractive valuations in the towers sector. This aligns with the disposals undertaken by numerous operators across Europe in recent years. Proceeds from the sale will be channeled towards significantly de-levering the business, freeing up cash flow for future growth,” Victoriya Boklag, United Group CEO, said.

“We are delighted to have partnered with TAWAL, the largest integrated ICT infrastructure provider in the MENA region, in their first investment in the European telecoms sector and will explore further opportunities for joint growth and expansion,” she continued.

In its home market of Saudi Arabia, TAWAL prides itself as both the incumbent and largest towerco.

Carved out of market leading MNO stc and launched in 2019, TAWAL received its first taste of competition in 2022 as the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) acquired stc’s competitor in the mobile space, Zain’s towers.

PIF also launched a bid for TAWAL later in 2022.

Capacity has learnt that PIF may be seeking to tie up the two towercos soon, with further speculation that Saudia Arabia’s third MNO, Mobily, may also be encouraged to sell its towers.

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