- Deal covers 8,100 towers and lease back for 15 years
- Transaction subject to CITC and customary closing conditions
27 March 2019; IHS Holding Limited (“IHS”), one of the largest independent owners, operators and developers of shared telecommunications infrastructure in the world and leader in EMEA by tower count, has announced that Mobile Telecommunications Company Saudi Arabia (“Zain KSA”) has signed an agreement to sell and lease back the passive physical infrastructure of its mobile tower portfolio to IHS. Zain KSA has approximately 8,100 mobile telecommunication sites located in prime and strategic locations across the Kingdom.
Under the terms of the agreement, Zain KSA is selling only its passive, physical infrastructure to IHS and will retain its intelligent software, technology and intellectual property with respect to managing its network. The agreement also involves the building of an additional 1,500 new sites over the next six years.
This agreement for Zain KSA’s tower portfolio is IHS’ second announced deal in the region after entering into an agreement with Zain Kuwait, which was the first sale and lease back deal of mobile telecommunication sites in the Middle East region by a licensed mobile operator. Subject to certain regulatory and statutory approvals for these transactions, IHS will be the first independent tower operator of scale in the region.
The transaction remains subject to approval from the Kingdom's Communications and Information Technology Commission and other customary closing conditions.
Eng. Sultan bin AbdulAziz Al-Deghaither, Zain Saudi Arabia CEO said:
The deal unlocks capital and resources, allowing us to focus on our core operations and to further invest in and deliver the latest ICT technologies to meet the ever-increasing demand for reliable broadband access and data consumption. It also provides us additional impetus to focus on the delivery of more customer enhancing services in order to offer them the best data experience in the Kingdom.
Sam Darwish, Executive Vice Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer of IHS, said:
This agreement is another important step in our strategy to apply the expertise and capabilities that we have developed over the past 18 years to additional global markets. We are very excited by the growth prospects for wireless data and infrastructure in the Middle East and today’s news is a further example of our strong commitment to the region. We look forward to strengthening the partnership with Zain to provide customers with our high-quality services and innovative solutions.
IHS is committed to working with the other leading mobile network operators and authorities to further accelerate the development of the Kingdom’s information technology infrastructure, while expanding coverage and capacity to continue toimprove network quality.
This transaction will further strengthen IHS’ position as the first independent tower operator in the Middle East region. Saudi Arabia’s wireless industries are poised for a sustained period of growth and this transaction will accelerate the delivery of best-in-class wireless solutions to mobile phone users throughout the Kingdom.
About IHS: IHS is one of the largest independent owners, operators and developers of shared telecommunications infrastructure, or tower operators in the world by tower count with approximately 24,000 towers. IHS is the largest independent tower operator in EMEA and the third largest independent multinational tower operator globally, in both cases by tower count. IHS continues to grow and develop its business with leading market positions in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia. IHS also announced an agreement in October 2017 to acquire Zain’s towers in Kuwait, subject to certain regulatory and statutory approvals. Upon completion of the Zain Kuwait and Saudi Arabia transactions, IHS towers will have approximately 33,100 towers in its portfolio which will confirm IHS’ position as one of the largest independent multinational tower operators globally by tower count.
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About Zain KSA: Zain KSA operates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is part of Zain Group, a leading telecommunications operator across the Middle East and Africa, providing mobile voice and data services to over 49 million active customers as of 30 December 2018. With a commercial presence in 8 countries, Zain operates in: Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and South Sudan. In Lebanon, the Group manages ‘touch’ on behalf of the government. In Morocco, Zain has a 15.5% stake in ‘INWI’, through a joint venture. Zain is listed on the Boursa Kuwait (stock ticker: ZAIN).
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