Warid Telecom, fully owned telecom operator of Dhabi Group of UAE, is still seeking for buyers in Pakistani market, reported reuters citing at least three sources without naming them.
Report, while quoting unnamed sources, said that China Mobile or Etisalat owned PTCL could be the interested buyers.
Reuters said that U.S. investment bank Lazard and British lender Standard Chartered have been mandated to evaluate the deal, which can potentially get Dhabi Group as high as USD 1 billion for 100 percent sell out of Warid.
PTCL’s Walid Irshad didn’t rule out the buy-out by saying that his group is interested to see if Warid makes sense for them. “But it’s not only us. Warid is an existing operator that has been here for many years and so we’re saying ‘let’s look at the prospects”, he commented.
This is not the first time that Warid is up for sale. Previously in 2009, Dhabi Group did intensive talks with Telenor Group of Norway for the sell-out but negotiations ended without any conclusion due to price difference.
Dhabi Group again hinted for a sell-out of Warid in January 2013 when it bought back 30 percent stakes from Singtel of Singapore. The deal had a clause which said that Singtel will receive a 7.5% share of proceeds from any future sale or public offering of Warid.
Buying Warid can be a good idea for China Mobile – the number four operator in Pakistan with 19 million customers – especially when new customer acquisitions have become harder, thanks to tighter regulatory measures for selling new SIMs and increasing tele-density.
China Mobile, with tons of cash reserves, is long trying to expand its international business in Pakistan and other regional markets.
Pakistani operators are eyeing upcoming 3G spectrum auction to boost the level of currently struggling ARPUs. Higher customer base means better chances of return on pre-3G customer acquisition investments.
It merits mentioning here that Warid Telecom is largely known for loyal customer base and strong network infrastructure, though with limited coverage.