Zain Saudi Is Said to Be Close to $500 Million Towers Sale

  • TASC Towers said to be planning to buy 7,500 telecom masts
  • Zain Saudi CEO says discussions still in progress with TASC

Zain Saudi Arabia is nearing an agreement to sell about 7,500 mobile phone towers to Lebanon’s TASC Towers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The sale could raise about $500 million for the kingdom’s third-largest mobile operator, also known as Mobile Telecommunications Co. of Saudi Arabia, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. TASC, which buys and leases mobile towers in the Middle East and Asia, has approached banks to raise financing for the deal, which could be completed by the end of the year, they said.

“Zain remains interested in such a transaction and discussions are still in progress with TASC SAL,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Kaliaropoulos said in an emailed response to questions. “Negotiations of this nature are complex, protracted and there is no certainty that these will lead to a transaction. There are no material developments to report at this stage.”

Zain Saudi shares rose 3.2 percent in Riyadh on Monday to close at 9.36 riyals ($2.50), the highest since May 25. The company said in December it was in talks with TASC and Acwa Holding over a possible deal for its towers, although a binding agreement hadn’t been reached. Saudi Telecom Co. and Mobily, the kingdom’s two largest telecom firms, are in talks to merge their mobile towers.

Quarterly Profit

Zain Saudi reported a profit of 45 million riyals ($12 million) for the first quarter, its first quarterly profit since the company was founded in 2008.

TASC was established in 2003 to acquire telecom towers and lease them back to mobile networks, according to its website. It currently owns towers in areas including the Middle East, South East Asia and North Africa. A spokesman for TASC declined to comment.

— With assistance by Vivian Nereim, and Archana Narayanan

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