Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C.P. (Zain), Kuwait's leading mobile operator announced it has entered into definite agreements to sell and leaseback the passive physical infrastructure of its mobile tower portfolio in Kuwait for US$165 million to IHS Holding Limited (IHS), in partnership with Towershare Management Limited ("Towershare"). The transaction will result in the formation of a new entity that will acquire and manage Zain's tower assets in Kuwait, with Zain assuming a minority shareholding in this newly formed entity.
The transaction has been approved by Kuwait's Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA), and is still subject to other regulatory and statutory approvals, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.
IHS is the largest independent tower operator in Europe, Middle East and Africa by tower count and the third largest independent multinational tower company globally. Zain has more than 1,600 mobile telecommunication towers located in prime, strategic locations across Kuwait and this transaction will enable Zain to focus on its core business and customers while accelerating investment in cutting edge telecom technologies to help meet growing mobile data demand.
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 its network.
Upon completion, the transaction will be the first sale and leaseback of telecom towers in the Middle East region by a licensed mobile operator, and creates the first independent tower operator of scale in the region. This transaction is part of IHS' broader strategy to apply its operational expertise from its international portfolio further throughout emerging markets. The newly formed entity will be responsible for maintaining and expanding Zain's tower footprint across Kuwait.