Zain Saudi Arabia (Zain KSA) has signed an agreement to sell and lease back the passive physical infrastructure of its mobile tower portfolio to IHS Holding Limited (IHS) in a deal worth SAR 2.52 billion (USD 672 million).
Zain KSA has more than 8,100 mobile telecommunication towers located in prime and strategic locations across the Kingdom. 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.
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.
Bader Al Kharafi, Zain Vice Chairman and Group CEO & Zain KSA Vice-Chairman, said: “Zain KSA is transforming financially, operationally, and strategically, and this evolution is aimed at the operator emerging as a more successful digital lifestyle services provider and delivering additional shareholder value. Our agreement with IHS is pioneering in many respects, not least in the way it allows us to reduce debt and free up capital to invest in other areas of the business focused on customer satisfaction and service delivery.”
The agreement, once approved, will see the sale of the infrastructure of 8,100 towers with a lease back period of 15 years, with a 5-year renewal option. Furthermore, it includes the building of an additional 1,500 new towers over the next 6 years.
Sales proceeds will be used to reduce Murabaha financing, thus reducing funding burdens, and allowing the Zain KSA team to invest and focus on the delivery of more data monetization initiatives and customer enhancing services to offer them the best data experience in the Kingdom.
The final agreement between Zain KSA and HIS Holdings is subject to the approval of the Kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission and financing authorities. Any related developments will be announced immediately.