By John Lee.
Zain Group has announced that its operation in Iraq has entered into a definite 15-year agreement to sell and leaseback, as well as the management rights of the passive physical infrastructure of its 4,968 tower portfolio in Iraq to TASC Towers Iraq for US$180 million.
The deal also comprises of TASC Towers Iraq expanding the network and building new tower sites across the country to meet the growing demand for data connectivity as per local market requirements, including an agreed 198 new sites over the next 12 months. Furthermore, TASC Towers will manage Zain Iraq's supporting facilities such as power generators, fuel tanks and shelters.
Zain Iraq will retain its active infrastructure, including wireless communication radios, antennas, intelligent software, transmission systems, and intellectual property with respect to managing its telecom network.
TASC Towers, headquartered in Dubai, is an international tower operator focused on sale and leaseback, build-to-suit and tower related investments in the MENEASA market (Middle East, North & East Africa and South Asia).
As an independent tower operator, TASC Towers' subsidiary in Iraq will work on optimizing co-location of mobile network sites with other telco operators in the country, that will result in a better utilization of mobile site infrastructure, the reduction of power generators and hence the industry's carbon footprint.
Bader Al-Kharafi (pictured), Zain Vice-Chairman of Group CEO said:
"Zain's '4Sight' strategy aims to create significant value for shareholders through the unlocking of capital and optimization of infrastructure assets which will flourish under the management of an independent team. This transaction will enhance operational efficiencies and empower Zain Iraq with greater flexibility to invest in network upgrades and cutting-edge ICT technologies to meet the ever-increasing demand for reliable and high-speed connectivity."
"I congratulate both the Zain and TASC Towers teams for their competence in completing this landmark deal that will be instrumental in developing Iraq's digital economy and paves the way for tower infrastructure sharing, an important element in our groupwide carbon footprint reduction strategy that aims for Zain to transition to Net-Zero by 2050."
Iyad Mazhar, CEO of TASC Towers commented:
"As we expand TASC Towers' presence across the region, we look forward to playing a key role in the evolution of Iraq's digital economy and the positive impact it has on socio-economic growth for the community. Our independent operating model enhances the operational and carbon efficiency of passive tower infrastructure, which will allow mobile operators to invest more in technology upgrades and connectivity speeds."
This Iraq tower sale is the fourth tower transaction undertaken by Zain following similar pioneering deals including the transfer of 2,830 towers in Jordan, 1,620 towers in Kuwait and 8,100 towers in Saudi Arabia.
By freeing a telcos' resources, tower sale and lease back deals enable Zain operations to laser focus on the telco's core business and customers, therefore providing them an exceptional mobile and data experience.
FTI Capital Advisors acted as exclusive financial advisor to Zain Group on this transaction.