By Hadeel Al Sayegh and Davide Barbuscia

DUBAI, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Oman Telecommunications (Omantel)
has attracted three bidders in the second round of the
sale of its tower network, in a deal that could be worth over
$500 million, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The asset sale by the state-controlled company comes as
Oman, a Gulf crude producer, seeks to raise cash after the
coronavirus crisis and low oil prices hurt its finances.

Omani infrastructure fund Rakiza, which is backed by Oman’s
sovereign wealth fund, has partnered with
Mauritius-headquartered telecoms group IHS Towers as a bidder,
said the sources, declining to be named as the matter is not

Oman Towers, which leases telecom towers and other
infrastructure to wireless telecommunication service operators
in Oman, has also bid for the network, the sources said.

Helios Towers, a telecom tower infrastructure firm that
operates in Sub-Saharan Africa and is listed in London,
is another bidder, they said.

A response to the bids is expected this Thursday, both the
sources said. One of them added that about 3,000 towers would be
included in the transaction.

IHS declined to comment. Rakiza, Omantel, Oman Towers and
Helios Towers did not immediately respond to queries for

Telecoms operators are increasingly keen to dispose of
towers which now provide little competitive edge due to broadly
similar network quality and coverage.

Telecom operator Zain Saudi Arabia sold 8,100 towers and
related infrastructure to IHS Holding in 2018 in a deal worth
2.43 billion riyals ($647.7 million). Its Kuwait-listed parent
company Zain Group this year sold 1,620 mobile towers to IHS for
$130 million.

Oman, rated sub-investment grade by all major credit rating
agencies, faces a widening deficit and large debt maturities in
the next few years. It has recently embarked on a new fiscal
plan to wean itself off its dependence on crude revenues
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Davide Barbuscia; Editing by
Jan Harvey)

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