PSO Wants to Swap Debt for Stake in Public Sector Companies

Pakistan State Oil is in talks with the federal government over a plan to acquire stakes in public sector energy companies in a bid to offset debt it is owed by these companies, Reuters reported Thursday.

According to the report, PSO’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Syed Muhammad Taha told the news agency that the process to acquire stakes in energy companies would be done through competitive bidding, and in case of successful bids, the stakes would be offset against PSO’s receivables.

Taha further said that the proposal from PSO is under consideration and the company is working with the government on it.

Resolving the issue of mounting debt across the country’s power sector is one of the major concerns of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which will begin talks with Pakistan soon over a new long-term program.

It is pertinent to mention here that the federal government has a stake of around 25 percent in PSO, while private shareholders own the rest.

According to the IMF, the power and gas sectors’ circular debt stood at almost $17 billion by June 2023, accounting for 5 percent of the country’s GDP. The country has taken certain measures like increasing energy prices to resolve the pile up of the debt but the issue is far from resolved.

Taha said PSO was also a part of the broader settlement framework for the privatization of Pakistan International Airlines, which would potentially include a clean asset swap and a stake in the airline’s non-core assets.

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