Pakistan hands over telecom firm to UAE firm

Karachi, April 16:

Pakistani authorities have passed control of the country’s largest telecom to United Arab Emirates Etisalat, after a bid of $2.6 billion in June last year, officials said today. The management control of Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) was formally

transferred to Etisalat yesterday in Islamabad by inducting its directors at the board of PTCL.

“The nominees of Etisalat were formally co-opted on the PTCL board and its group of companies to complete formal handing over of the company’s management to the new owner,” a spokesman of state-run Privatisation Commission said.

The deal had foundered in October when Etisalat failed to meet a deadline for full payment but marathon talks between Pakistan and the UAE based firm saved the sale.

The Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) was finally signed last month after Etisalat paid the initial amount of $1.4 billion, the official said requesting anonymity.

Under the agreement the balance of $1.2 billion will be paid in nine equal installments on a half-yearly basis, he said. The government is planning privatisation of several state-run companies, including Pakistan’s largest petroleum marketing company, gas companies and other units.

The sale of state assets is to help repay $36.7 billion in foreign loans and finance development projects at home, where more than a third of the population live in poverty.