Telco brokers sale-and-leaseback deal with IHS, Towershare Management for 1,600-plus sites

Zain has agreed to sell its telecoms towers portfolio in Kuwait to infrastructure specialists IHS Holding and Towershare Management for US$165 million (€140 million).

The deal will create a new towers business in Kuwait. Zain will lease back access to its towers and will take a minority shareholding in the new entity, the telco explained, without disclosing the size of its stake.

Kuwait’s Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) has given the deal the green light, but it still requires other regulatory approvals. The parties expect it to close in the first quarter of next year.

"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," said Zain’s group CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi.

Al-Kharafi added that this is the first deal of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region.

"We are delighted to partner with Zain on this agreement which will expand our operating footprint into the Middle East," said IHS chief executive Issam Darwish.

Zain has in excess of 1,600 towers across Kuwait.

"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," Darwish added.