Pakistan to resolve $2.6b PTCL-Etisalat deal by June: Finance Minister Tarin

Both parties have agreed to complete the evaluation of disputed properties on fast track to settle an outstanding amount of over $800 million


Muzaffar Rizvi

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Published: Wed 16 Mar 2022, 1:30 PM

Pakistan will resolve the $2.6 billion PTCL-Etisalat deal by June as both the parties have agreed to complete the evaluation process of disputed properties on fast track to settle an outstanding amount of over $800 million, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Pakistan Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said Etisalat Group will explore more investment opportunities in the country's telecom and information technology sectors once the 16-year old privatisation deal of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) is closed during this financial year ending on June 30.

"We have made good progress to evaluate the disputed properties and settle the outstanding payment of over $800 million by June this year," Tarin told Khaleej Times during his recent visit to Dubai.

Etisalat signed a $2.6 billion deal in June 2005 to acquire 26 per cent shares in the PTCL with management control. It paid $1.8 billion to Pakistan and held back around $800 million over a property-transfer dispute with the Pakistani government.

"The $800 million have been lying in the escrow account for more than a decade and the company would transfer the remaining amount after the settlement of the issue," according to sources.

We will expand our presence in Pakistan: e& CEO

Hatem Dowidar, group CEO of e& -- the UAE telecoms group formerly known as etisalat, said the PTCL pending payment issue is expected to resolve soon.

"The ball is in the Pakistani government court. I recently met Finance Minister in Islamabad and discussed the ways to settle the issue," Dowidar told Khaleej Times recently on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.

He said Etisalat Group will explore investment opportunities in Pakistan's telecom sector.

"Pakistan is a promising telecom market and we will expand our presence and strengthen the position in the country," Dowidar said without elaborating.

Sources said the UAE-based telecom giant is interested to launch 5G services in Pakistan. In addition, it is planning to invest more in the PTCL's fastest growing fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network.

5G spectrum auction

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority will conclude 5G spectrum auction by the end of this year or early 2023 as the authority has begun work on spectrum identification and communicated the rules and regulations to all the interested telecom groups.

Pakistan’s telecoms industry, which attracted $1.2 billion in foreign investment during the last three years, is expected to get substantial growth with widespread 5G deployment in the country next year.

"The UAE is one of the major economic partners of Pakistan and we are keen to further strengthen business and trade linkages between the two countries," Tarin said.

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