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Cordiant provides USD50m funding for mobile phone network expansion in Iraq

Cordiant Capital Inc (Cordiant), the Montreal based fund manager that specialises in loans to emerging markets, has committed USD50 million to fund the expansion of Iraq’s mobile phone network.

Mobile penetration in Iraq is estimated at just 77%, lagging far behind most of its neighbouring countries where penetration rates are virtually 100%.
 
The loan is part of a $400 million long term financing for Zain Iraq, the country’s largest mobile phone operator, to improve access to network coverage for remote populations. A reliable telecommunication service is instrumental to the growth of Iraq’s economy as it seeks to diversify itself outside of the oil & gas sector. Zain Iraq is a subsidiary of the Kuwaiti Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C.
 
Cordiant is providing the loan on behalf of the Infrastructure Crisis Facility Debt Pool (ICF Debt Pool), which was conceived by the International Finance Corporation and developed on the Private Infrastructure Development Group platform (www.PIDG.org) to help make up for the collapse in emerging market infrastructure lending caused by the global banking crisis. Its EUR500 million capital is provided by KfW, the German development bank, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany.
 
David Creighton, President and CEO of Cordiant Capital, says: “Iraq’s need for infrastructure is immense. So far, foreign direct investment has been very scarce apart from in the oil & gas industry. As a result, the country’s economy is highly dependent on oil whilst other business sectors are extremely under developed.”
 
“Improved access to mobile telephony will facilitate the growth of small business, promote entrepreneurship and increase job creation in all sectors.”
 
Andy Bainbridge, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ICF Debt Pool, says: “The relatively low mobile phone penetration rate in Iraq means that the market has a great potential for growth in the next ten years, making this an attractive deal for our long term investors.”
 
“We have carefully assessed the risks to telephony infrastructure in Iraq and are comfortable that this deal is well within our parameters.”
 
The Infrastructure Crisis Facility Debt Pool funding is part of a USD195 million syndicated parallel loan with FMO, the Netherland’s Development Finance Institution; Proparco, the French Development Finance Institution; and DEG, Deutsche Investitions – und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH. In addition, the IFC is providing a USD155 million A loan and syndicated a USD50 million B loan to Ahli United Bank.

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