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Press Release

IHS Towers Completes Telecom Tower Acquisition In a Sale and Lease Back Agreement with Zain in Kuwait

  • Transaction creates the first independent tower operator in the Middle East
  • Part of IHS’ broader strategy to expand globally

12 February 2020; Kuwait City and London: IHS Holding Limited (“IHS”), one of the largest independent owners, operators and developers of shared telecommunication infrastructure in the world by tower count, has completed the sale and lease back of approximately 1,620 telecommunication towers in Kuwait from Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C.P (Zain), Kuwait’s leading mobile telecommunications operator.

Further to receiving the approval of Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) and the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) for the transaction, IHS and Zain have formed a new operating company, called IHS Kuwait WLL (“IHS Kuwait”). IHS will own the majority of IHS Kuwait and will have operational control of the entity, while Zain will retain a minority interest.

The transaction, which creates the first independent tower operator of scale in the GCC region, also represents the first sale and leaseback of telecom towers in the Middle East by a licensed mobile operator.

Under the terms of the transaction, Zain is selling only its passive, physical infrastructure to the new company and will retain its intelligent software, technology and intellectual property with respect to managing the network. IHS Kuwait will be responsible for owning, maintaining, managing, marketing and expanding the passive telecommunication infrastructure previously owned by Zain in Kuwait. 

This transaction expands IHS’ footprint into another attractive emerging market and extends its broader regional and global growth objectives. IHS will leverage its operational expertise to invest in new infrastructure helping accelerate the roll-out of new technologies and delivering efficiencies for existing infrastructure.                               

Zain has more than 1,620 mobile telecommunication towers located in prime and strategic locations across Kuwait. This transaction will enable Zain to focus on its core business and customers, while accelerating Zain’s investment in cutting edge telecom technologies to help meet growing mobile data demand.

Sam Darwish, IHS Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer, commented: 

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. We are excited to be partnering with another top-tier regional mobile network operator, as we broaden our geographic horizons globally. Our expansion into the Middle East region is in line with IHS’ broader strategy to provide best-in-class telecoms infrastructure in attractive growth markets throughout the world and follows our recently announced agreement to expand into Latin America. 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. 

Bader Al-Kharafi, Vice-Chairman and Group CEO of Zain, said: 

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. It also supports Zain’s transformational strategy in becoming a digital lifestyle provider through optimizing service delivery and enhancing customer experience. 

Al-Kharafi added: 

I’m very proud of the Zain team for its professionalism in completing this first agreement of its kind in the MENA region. I’m also very appreciative of the positive support of both CITRA and KDIPA which were instrumental in making this deal happen. We are confident we have chosen the right partner in IHS, a company that possesses high caliber expertise with sound operational experience in diverse markets. 

ENDS


About IHS: IHS is one of the largest independent owners, operators and developers of shared telecommunications infrastructure in the world by tower count. IHS continues to grow and develop its business with leading market positions in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia. IHS recently announced its agreement to acquire the Latin America-based telecommunications infrastructure solutions provider Cell Site Solutions (CSS), subject to certain regulatory and statutory approvals. Upon completion of the CSS transaction, IHS will have approximately 28,300 towers in its portfolio across nine countries. For more information, please email: communications@ihstowers.com or visit: www.ihstowers.com   

About Zain Group: Zain is a leading telecommunications operator across the Middle East and Africa providing mobile voice and data services to over 49.1 million active customers as of 30 September, 2019. 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 Kuwait Stock Exchange (stock ticker: ZAIN). For more information, please email: info@zain.com or visit: www.zain.com; www.facebook.com/zain; www.twitter.com/zain; www.youtube.com/zain; www.instagram.com/zaingroup; www.linkedin.com/company/zain