Etisalat may double its PTCL stake

DUBAI — Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) said yesterday it was considering doubling its stake in Pakistan Telecommunications Co Ltd (PTCL), Pakistan’s largest telecom provider.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Mon 10 Sep 2007, 9:06 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:35 PM

Etisalat bought 26 per cent stake of PTCL in 2005 for $2.6 billion under an agreement that gave it management control.

The state-owned United Arab Emirates company is now considering whether to increase that to 51 per cent by buying more stock from the government, Etisalat Chairman Mohammed Hassan Omran said in a telephone interview with Reuters in Dubai.

“We are evaluating that option and once we’ve arrived at the decision that this is positive, we will talk to the government,” Omran said, declining to give further details.

Pakistan, the world’s third-fastest growing market for mobile phone users, has a moratorium on the sale of new mobile licences. The only way for international companies to enter the world’s sixth-most populous nation is by buying into existing operators.

The number of mobile phone users in Pakistan more than tripled to 58.4 million — equivalent to about 35 per cent of the population of 165 million — at the end of April from 16.9 million in September 2005, according to the Web site of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

“We are already in Pakistan, so if we have an additional share this will add to our array of operations,” Omran said. Etisalat has no immediate plans to spend on PTCL’s infrastructure, Omran said.

Other telecom operators from the world’s biggest oil-exporting region have also looked to expand into Pakistan.

State-owned Qatar Telecommunications Co, which operates Oman’s second mobile phone operator, Nawras, took over Pakistan’s Burraq Telecom this year with a Saudi partner.

Warid Telecom, Pakistan’s third-largest mobile operator with about 10 million customers, is owned by the private Abu Dhabi Group.

State-controlled Oman Telecommunications Co is also finalising a deal to buy 65 per cent of local long-distance telephone service provider, Worldcall. Etisalat, which also operates a unit in Egypt and an affiliate in Saudi Arabia, bought 40 per cent stake of a new Nigerian telephone operation last week. Omran said he expected Etisalat to spend $1 billion on developing fixed-line, mobile phone and data services in Nigeria.

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