Omantel inks pact to sell its tower infrastructure in Oman to Helios Towers

Business Saturday 15/May/2021 16:24 PM
By: Times News Service
Omantel inks pact to sell its tower infrastructure in Oman to Helios Towers

Muscat: Oman Telecommunications Company SAOG Group (Omantel) announced that it has agreed to sell its passive mobile tower infrastructure assets to Helios Towers plc (Helios Towers) for a cash consideration of $575 million.

Under the agreement, Omantel will sell only its passive mobile infrastructure assets comprised of 2,890 towers in the country and enter into a long-term master services agreement to continue to utilise the tower assets.

Against the service fee to be paid to Helios Towers, Omantel will eliminate certain direct network operating costs and through the build-to-suit arrangement avoid passive infrastructure Capex for new sites. Besides, utilisation of sale proceeds for debt reduction will lead to financial cost savings. Omantel will retain full ownership and control of its active network and spectrum as well as its software, technology and intellectual property with respect to managing its networks.

Omantel is the first and leading telecommunications operator in Oman with the most advanced mobile and converged networks in the country. Helios Towers is a leading independent telecommunications infrastructure company with one of the most extensive tower portfolios across Africa and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Talal Said Al Mamari, the CEO of Omantel, said, “The sale of our passive tower infrastructure is in line with our strategy to develop world-class asset-light, strategic and advanced communications networks in Oman and to generate the greatest value and efficiency for the benefit of our shareholders, customers and partners. This strategic partnership invites Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Oman, supporting Oman as a leading FDI destination in the GCC while creating jobs and opportunities in the country.  This move also allows the monetization of our towers at highly attractive valuation levels, de-lever our balance sheet and will accelerate network development in next-generation advanced technologies while enabling management to focus on innovation and product development while outsourcing non-core infrastructure management to a world-class infrastructure management firm – Helios Towers. We are excited to enter into this transaction and long-term strategic partnership with Helios Towers who have impressed us with their high level of expertise, interest and partnership credentials.”

Kash Pandya, the Chief Executive of Helios Towers, said, “We are delighted to announce the creation of our long-term partnership with Omantel through this transaction. We look forward to supporting Omantel’s growth, and that of the wider Omani mobile market, through our delivery of customer service excellence and world-class infrastructure solutions and services. We view Oman as a very attractive and supportive market for foreign investments, with strong growth and exciting future prospects. We will be further investing capital in Oman as we add to the tower count through greenfield BTS site development and colocations, enhance the current tower portfolio and develop a talented local Omani team.

"Through the acquisition, which establishes us as a leading tower operator in Oman, we expect to achieve our Group target of 12,000+ towers well ahead of plan, while also strengthening our business through further hard-currency revenues and diversification into one of the fastest-growing markets in the Middle-East. We look forward to working with Omantel and the other MNOs over the coming years to further develop next-generation mobile infrastructure solutions and services in Oman.”

The agreement contemplates the sale of 2,890 mobile towers with a lease and service contract for a period of 15 years with renewal options. Helios Towers has also committed to building a minimum of an additional 300 new towers over the next 7 years.
 Sales proceeds will be used for deleveraging, support strategic investments in next-generation advanced technologies and capabilities enhancement.

The transaction is subject to conditions precedent, including, inter-alia, the approval of Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Oman and other statutory authorities in Oman, as may be applicable. We expect to conclude the transaction in the second half of 2021.

Citigroup Global Markets Limited acted as financial advisor to Omantel, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Al Busaidy, Mansoor Jamal & Co. acted as legal advisors to Omantel, Ernst & Young acted as financial & tax due-diligence advisor and Hardiman Telecommunications as a technical and commercial due-diligence adviser.