Baghdad, Iraq, March 1, 2011
—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is supporting economic growth and expanded access to telecommunications services in Iraq through a landmark $400 million, seven-year debt facility for Zain Iraq, the country’s largest mobile phone operator.
The long-term debt facility will help Zain Iraq expand service coverage and improve telecommunications quality throughout Iraq, help unlock opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation, and increase employment in a key, non-oil industry. Zain Iraq is a subsidiary of Kuwait-based Zain Group, a longtime IFC partner.
Zain Group CEO, Nabeel Bin Salamah, said, “This debt facility is an enormous vote of confidence by IFC in Zain Iraq’s performance to date and its future expansion plans in a diverse and promising economy. The financing comes at a vital stage of the mobile operations business growth cycle as it expands to serve a relatively low-penetrated, yet high-potential mobile market."
Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC Director for the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe, said, “For conflict-affected countries such as Iraq, where the movement of people and goods is complicated, access to reliable, high-quality voice and data services is key for economic activity and for personal and family safety. This facility demonstrates IFC’s commitment to supporting economic integration by facilitating cross-border investments within the region.”
Over the last four months, with the strong support of Zain Iraq, IFC mobilized the $400 million debt facility, which consists of an IFC A loan of $155 million, a $50 million B loan committed by Ahli United Bank, and four syndicated parallel loans totaling $195 million by Proparco, Infrastructure Crisis Facility, DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, and FMO (Netherlands Development Finance Company).
IFC brought together the commercial bank syndication market and the development finance community to provide access to different sources of financing for Zain Iraq and to help promote the development of a syndicated loan market in Iraq.
Zain Iraq has over 50 percent of the country’s mobile phone market by customer market share and is majority owned by Zain Group, a pioneer in delivering high-quality and innovative communications services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The company expects to add over 4 million Iraqi mobile users over the next 5 years, growing its customer base to close to 20 million subscribers in a country that has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in the region. Many of these users are expected to come from some of Iraq’s poorest governorates, including Al-Anbar, Diala and Salahuddin.
IFC’s other investments in Iraq-based firms and MENA firms undertaking projects in Iraq total $173 million, and include equity stakes in two banks and a cement producer, as well as loans for port and hotel construction.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit
About Zain Iraq
Zain Iraq is a subsidiary of Zain Group, a leading telecommunications operator across the Middle East providing mobile voice and data services to over 35.3 million active customers as at 30 September 2010 with a commercial presence in 7 countries. Zain operates in the following countries: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. In Lebanon, the company manages ‘mtc-touch’ on behalf of the government. In Morocco, Zain has a 15.5% stake in Wana Telecom, now branded ‘INWI’, through a joint venture. Zain is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (stock ticker: ZAIN) with a market capitalization of KWD 5.9 billion (US $21 billion) as at February 28, 2011.