Zain to sell its mobile tower portfolio to IHS for $165m
10 October 2017 | Natalie Bannerman
Zain has agreed to sell and leaseback the passive physical infrastructure of its mobile tower portfolio in Kuwait for $165 million to IHS Holding.
The deal is said to result in a newly formed entity that will acquire and manage Zain’s tower assets in Kuwait, with Zain holding a minority share in the new company.
Speaking on the deal between Zain and IHS, Bader Al-Kharafi, vice-chairman and group CEO of Zain, said: “This transaction is set to support Zain’s transformational strategy in becoming a digital lifestyle provider as it will optimize operational efficiencies, enhance customer experience, and deliver greater value for its shareholders. 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.”
Under the scope of the agreement, Zain will only sell its passive, physical infrastructure to the new company but will retain its intelligent software, technology and intellectual property.
The deal has been approved by Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) but is still subject to other regulatory and statutory approvals. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.
Issam Darwish, executive vice chairman and CEO of IHS, added: “We are delighted to partner with Zain on this agreement which will expand our operating footprint into the Middle East. We look forward to a long-term partnership with Zain, where we can demonstrate our strong operating capabilities and service offering in support of their customers. We expect significant growth in wireless phone and data usage in a number of emerging markets over the next few years and we believe, given the significant experience we have gained in our African operations, we are well positioned to meet the growing needs of wireless network operators in these countries.”
Omantel to buy 12% Zain stake for $960m?
In related news, Omantel has offered to buy a 12% stake in Zain. The deal which is said to be worth $960 million, will more than double Omantel's share of the company months after spending $846 million for a 9.8% stake back in August.
Omantel said that it had signed a non-binding letter of intent with Kuwait-based Al Khair, the investment firm of Kuwait’s Al Kharafi merchant family and owners of Zain.
Mobile Telecommunications Co, Zain’s trading parent company, is said to be studying the offer made by Omantel, which could grant the company management control, though no financial details have been given.
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