Batelco scraps tower lease plan in favour of infrastructure sharing

15 May 2012

Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) has abandoned a proposal to sell and lease back its cellular network transmission towers in Bahrain and Jordan, in favour of a plan to share infrastructure with rival operators. The group’s CEO Sheikh Mohamed Al-Khalifa was quoted by Reuters as saying that Batelco had decided not to proceed with the tower sale-lease plan – aimed at helping raise funds for acquisitions – because various proposals in both countries ‘did not create sufficient, long-term economic value.’ Batelco, which operates in Jordan via its Umniah subsidiary, gained investment-grade ratings in November and had a cash/bank balance of USD164 million at the end of March, meaning that it ‘has the ability to raise funds at much lower rates than tower companies and thus could not justify the lease back arrangements,’ Sheikh Mohamed said. Batelco will instead look to share towers and other network facilities, with the reasoning that ‘as more towers, rooftops and indoor solutions will be required in the future, such cooperation between operators will increase.’ In April, Sheikh Mohamed told Reuters that Batelco aimed to make at least one acquisition in 2012 to offset falling domestic revenue.