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IHS, Zain Sign $165m Tower Portfolio Agreement

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Mobile communications infrastructure company, IHS has entered into agreements to buy and leaseback the passive physical infrastructure of Kuwait-based mobile operator, KSCP (Zain), for US$165 million.

According to IHS, which has operations in Europe, Middle East, and in Africa, 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 the newly formed entity.

“I’m very proud of Zain team for its professionalism in completing the first agreement of its kind in the MENA region,” says Bader Al-Kharafi, Vice-Chairman and Group CEO of Zain, adding that the transaction is set to support Zain’s transformational strategy in becoming a digital lifestyle provider.

“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,” notes IHS in a statement.

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.

IHS says 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.”

In Africa, IHS has operations in Nigeria (15,754 towers), Cameroon (2,408 towers), Cote d’Ivoire (2,560 towers), Rwanda (804) towers, and Zambia (1,966 towers).The company claims to be the largest independent tower operator in Europe, Middle East, and Africa by tower count and the third largest independent multinational tower company globally.

Frost & Sullivan analysts estimate that the mobile network tower industry in Sub-Saharan Africa will be worth approximately US$1.5 billion in the next four years. “This will be on the back of increased take-up of tower management arrangements in some markets, with authorities in various regions also pressing telecom firms to share infrastructure.”

In August, the take-up of tower management arrangements in South Africa was seen to be in stark contrast to establishments in Nigeria, where 77% of the country’s 28,241 towers are owned by independent towercos, according to Tower Exchange. Etisalat, MTN, and Airtel in Nigeria had divested their portfolios through transactions with IHS Towers and American Tower Corporation.

During January 2017, MTN exchanged its 51% share of Nigeria Tower InterCo B.V. (the parent of Nigerian telecoms tower operator INT Towers Limited) for an increased stake in IHS.

MTN’s stake in IHS increased to approximately 29% from approximately 15%. “This transaction enables MTN to simplify its tower ownership structure and diversify its exposure to tower infrastructure across the IHS Group,” said MTN.

In July last year, IHS completed the acquisition of Helios Towers Nigeria Limited’s 1,211 diversified tower sites throughout Nigeria.

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Confirmed: Teleology is New Owner of 9Mobile

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Mr Boye Onasanya, chief executive officer of 9Mobile, has confirmed that Teleology Holding is the preferred buyer of the telecommunication company.

 

This came as Barclays Africa, the financial adviser handling the sale of 9mobile, also transmitted an official letter to Teleology Holdings Limited, confirming it as the preferred bidder in the sale of 9mobile.

 

According to Olusanya, Teleology Holdings emerged the best bidder in the sale process, while Smile Telecoms Holdings is considered as reserved bidder if Teleology reneges on its bid for the multimillion-dollar company.

 

In a communication with members of staff, Olusanya said its lenders, presumably Barclays Africa, will now engage Teleology to finalise negotiations on the sale of the company.

 

“In line with my previous communications on the bid process, discussions and negotiations have put the board in a position to name Teleology Holdings as the preferred bidder for our company,” Olusanya said in the memo.

 

“The lenders will now engage Teleology Holdings to conclude other aspects of the negotiation and I will continue to provide updates as and when the milestone occur.”

 

The letter also directed Teleology Holdings to make a non-refundable cash deposit of $50 million within 21 days from the date of the letter, dated February 21, 2018, or lose the bid to the reserve bidder, Smile Holdings Limited.

 

Also yesterday, THISDAY, citing a source at Barclays Africa, said Teleology Holdings Limited has got a letter that served as the official document for the conclusion of the sale of 9mobile.

 

Although it has been reported that Teleology had been selected as the preferred bidder, but such reports were based on speculations, as Teleology had not earlier received any official document from both Barclays and 9mobile, and not even from the telecommunications industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

 

NCC had on February 1, 2018, clarified that it was yet to receive any information from Barclays Africa and 9mobile concerning the sale of 9mobile, and dismissed as speculations and reports making the rounds then, that Teleology had emerged as the preferred bidder.

 

The official letter signed by Barclays and transmitted to Teleology Wednesday, has, therefore, finally confirmed Teleology as the preferred bidder.

 

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NCC, Others Laud Airtel 4G Launch

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) and Senate Committee on Communications have commended Airtel Nigeria for launching its 4G LTE – aimed at providing fast and reliable internet for Nigerians.

 

Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, chairman of NCC, in his remark at a consumer launch event held recently in Ibadan, said Airtel’s upgrade and expansion to a 4G network in Ibadan will definitely improve telecommunications services and drive economic growth.

“NCC is happy to celebrate with Airtel on this milestone and on other efforts aimed at achieving robust and extensive network coverage in Nigeria. NCC has taken note of Airtel’s numerous giant strides towards the provision of good communication service – accelerating economic growth in our dear country,” he said.

 

Hon. Saheed Fijabi, Chairman, House Committee on Communications, National Assembly, commended Airtel for continuous innovation and commitment to improve telecommunication service in Nigeria. “Airtel has been one of the companies that have always been complying with local content. We believe Airtel has been doing well and we will continue to give them our support.”

 

Dr. Dan-Azumi Mohammed Ibrahim, director general, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) also applauded the telco for its customer-centric offering; describing the launch of its 4G LTE has a timely revolution.

 

Chief Moses Alake Adeyemo, deputy governor of Oyo State hailed Airtel for deploying 4G in Ibadan, saying that he is glad that Airtel Nigeria has chosen Ibadan to pioneer the launch of its revolutionary 4G service.

 

Segun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer & managing director of Airtel Nigeria, while speaking during the event, said with the 4G launch, Airtel will power people, businesses and cultural advancement through technology in Ibadan.

 

“Airtel 4G will help drive growth, spread prosperity and empower the highly enterprising people of Ibadan to fulfill their potentials and realize their dreams.

 

“Our commitment is to deliver 4G Service that works to Nigerians as we will dramatically improve mobile Internet experience for telecoms consumers across the country.

 

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Medallion Expands Interconnect, Data Centre infrastructure to Enugu, Others

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Medallion Communications Limited said it is expanding its Interconnect and Data Centre infrastructure to Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano and Asaba in an effort to accommodate more service providers in other parts of Nigeria.

Ikechukwu Nnamani, Chief Executive Officer of Medallion, who disclosed this last week in Lagos said the expansion, which is in phases will help boost the experience of telecom users across the country.

“Apart from our Data Centre in Lagos and Abuja, we are also on the verge of expanding the infrastructure to other parts of the country,” he disclosed.

He noted that the expansion is majorly part of the company’s plan to fortify it in readiness for a possible surge that would be experienced by infrastructure companies as a result of the advocacy for local hosting of data and content.

“The biggest push we are making this year is to expand our available infrastructure and services to other regions so they can also participate and benefit. We believe that the moment you get content closer to the users, you achieve two things: better user experience at a faster and better rate and lowering the cost,” Ikechukwu noted.

According to him, Enugu and Port-Harcourt would start operations in the first quarter of 2018, while Ibadan, Kano and Asaba will be operational before the end of third quarter this year.

He argues that a lot of infrastructure is still domicile in Lagos, leaving other parts of the country less attractive in terms of telecom services. He believes that a win-win situation remains the best offer for the industry, saying the more the users across the country get benefit from the services, the more the service provider gets more profit.

Medallion’s expertise revolves round building and operating technologically advanced and secure neutral telecommunications infrastructure that enable the exchange of telecom traffic amongst the different operators in Nigeria.

Its carrier neutral Data Centre infrastructure is the most connected in Nigeria, with over 83 service providers, including International gateway/submarine cables, GSM operators, CDMA/LTE operators, Fixed line/fixed wireless, long distance providers, metro fiber providers, ISPs, VAS and other content providers.

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