Dhabi Group has confirmed its intent of offloading majority stakes with management control of Warid’s operations in Pakistan. Group didn’t mention the size and value of this expected deal. However, for the first time in three months, group authenticated Warid’s sellout rumors, which it kept denying till now.
This statement came directly from Dhabi Group’s top management, as quoted by The National, a UAE based newspaper.
There has been a slight shift in the known scenario – as along with Telenor, PTCL has stepped in as another interested buyer of Warid Telecom.
“PTCL has shown keen interest in Warid Telecom,” told Bashir Tahir, CEO of Abu Dhabi Group to The National, “We are talking to every operator and we know they are also talking to each other”. He added.
We know that Walid Irshad had confirmed merger talks, but that was back in June 2009.
It merits mentioning here that Dhabi Group has recently sold majority stakes in group’s African Telecom operations to Essar, followed by another sellout of 70 percent stakes with management control of its Bangladeshi arm to Bharti Airtel.
A top official of a cellular company, who is close to situation, while commenting on the deal said that Warid is trying to best place itself to get highest bid. He said that Warid is negotiating, rather re-negotiating with all players, and purpose is clear, to boost its face value.
Ali Tahir, group chief commercial officer of Warid Telecom said in an interview that Economic and political situation in Pakistan over the past two years had made it difficult to grow Warid Telecom. This statement leads to a conclusion that Warid may hurriedly wrap up its operations in Pakistan.
“If you are a passive investor and want to manage a telecom company, it is very difficult to do,” Mr Tahir said. Any deal is likely to include a “put clause” that will give the Abu Dhabi Group the option of selling the rest of its stake at a set price within three years, he said.
Anticipating the situation, Infrastructure vendors are already planning network merger solutions for Telenor and Warid. An official of network vendor told ProPakistani that merger/acquisition will result network merger too. He commented that we have case studies of such mergers before, where two large scale operators merged into one. He advised that network merger of both the companies will free up resources with cost effective and optimized network performance.
The investment bank Goldman Sachs is advising the Abu Dhabi Group, as it did at the time of Warid-Singtel deal.
Other advisers involved in the negotiations are JP Morgan Chase for SingTel and Citibank for Telenor, Mr. Tahir said.
Update: In an email communication, Mr. Bashir A Tahir, CEO Warid Telecom International denied mentioned story. Following is what he exactly wrote for us,
Recently there have been misplaced news items in certain section of the press that Warid Telecom Pakistan may be up for sale because of the shrinking interest of the sponsors relating to the market conditions in Pakistan.
Warid telecom Pakistan categorically and unequivocally denies such reports and impressions. Warid Telecom Pakistan is not being sold off rather is on course with its expansion plans with the continuing focused view to extend quality services to its loyal customers to whom it is deeply grateful.
Warid Telecom Pakistan also extends sincere thanks to its business partners for their support and professional contribution. Bashir A. Tahir, CEO, Warid Telecom International
Update 2: An update of this story, regarding Warid’s denial of this report is published here