Warid Shuffles its Management; What’s on the Cards?


Warid secured over 17 million subscribers and a network covering 6800 destination, 550 cities throughout Pakistan. In terms of subscriber base Warid is Pakistan’s fourth largest cellular operator but in terms of service excellence, Warid is Pakistan’s unrivaled cellular service provider.

Company began 2010 embroiled in news of a takeover by a competing cellular company. A year later, it still remains embroiled in the same news with a different company now being named as the likely acquirer.

The rumors of its biggest shareholder, the Abu Dhabi Group, planning to exit the Pakistani landscape moved to substantiate the takeover news, only for the Arab owners to publicly refute all such matters.

The daily business for Warid and its consumers continues unabated. The musically-entwined adverts featuring the nation’s top acting talents, strumming their best poses to send a message of some great deal that the company is offering.

But the periodic results are speaking volumes of a company trying to re-gather an understanding of the market and its focus. Among all cellular companies in Pakistan, Warid and Ufone were the only ones to show a negative trend in subscriber numbers, as per the PTA report for 2009-10 FY. According to inside reports, Warid has lost over a million subscribers in the last year, including corporate clientele.

While this churn of users is not an identifier of the network quality, it is a serious consideration of the business model that has been implemented. When Warid launched 6 years ago, it used the holding group’s Bank Alfalah network to push sales of its postpaid segment. Relationship officers, whose primarily role was to find lucrative accounts for the bank, were being forced to get customers to sign on to postpaid connections with Warid.

If analyzed, there are two sides to look at here; the utilization of established means of consumer reach allowed for a quick access to prospective clientele but the lack of long term vision in the sales model meant a lack of vision of addressing the market needs.

Enter 2011, and the Abu Dhabi Group’s management has just played a fresh round of musical chairs. With the departure of some top executives, the head of the group has sent Mr. Zouhair Khaliq as the Executive Director on the boards of its telecom and broadband operations; Warid and Wateen. Mr. Naeem Zamindar and Mr. Muneer Farroqui retain their roles as CEO of Wateen and Warid respectively.

However, what has sent minds in overdrive across the industry is the one fact shared by all three operational heads; all were executives of another cellular company in the not too distant past, one which is being talked of becoming the acquirer of Warid.

Most industry analysts see the shuffle as a means of easing the acquisition process; placing individuals who are familiar with the system and personnel of the prospective new owner.

On the other side, a positive outlook is being encouraged with the sense that the new management is being placed to return the company to greener pastures with a better market understanding and without the need for ownership change.

How the ‘Life’ of Warid’s Network changes with new management? Let’s wait and watch!