Kuwaits Zain Group is planning to sell 7,000 mobile transmitter towers in Saudi Arabia and 1,900 towers in Kuwait in a bid to dispose non-core assets and raise funds.
Several companies are understood to have expressed an interest in acquiring the assets, and Zain is currently assessing these companies to determine a shortlist of buyers, according to a report by London-based news agency Reuters.
The US Citigroup is thought to be advising Zain on the transaction.
Zain Saudi has SR11.1bn ($2.9bn) of long-term debt, understood to be mostly associated with the purchase of its $6.1bn Saudi licence, and the planned sale is likely to help improve its balance sheet. Zain Group owns 37 per cent share in Zain Saudi.
The Zain Group reported a consolidated revenue of KD1.1bn ($3.8bn) in 2015, and has 45.6 million customers across Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan and Sudan. It also manages a mobile network on behalf of the government in Lebanon.
Many telecoms operators are understood to be considering selling their mobile tower assets. The similarity in quality and coverage between competing networks means these assets now hardly provide a competitive advantage and might as well be owned and managed by a third party.
Zain recently acquired a stake in UAE-based smart city advisory firm NexGen, which has advised the Dubai Smart City initiative. The investment is understood to help Zain create a specialised smart city services business unit to help governments and private developers across the four countries where it operate in deploying smart city solutions.
Solutions Zain eye to offer through the planned smart city business unit would include managed services including security and surveillance, smart metering and services in education and healthcare.