Pakistan based mobile network, Warid Telecom has been put up for sale by its UAE based owner, the Abu Dhabi Group.
The company is estimated to be worth around US$1 billion.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Reuters news agency reported the sale is expected to attract attention from China Mobile and Etisalat, although the Abu Dhabi Group may settle for a partial sale if terms cannot be agreed.
Walid Irshaid, the chief executive of PTCL said that “There are too many players in Pakistan. Margins have eroded for everybody and the market must consolidate – we’re all operating under low margins and low ARPU (average revenue per user) and that isn’t long-term sustainable.”
Etisalat may however find it difficult to secure regulatory approval, as while it already owns a majority stake in Pakistan Telecommunications (PTCL) and while consolidation in the market would be beneficial, its purchase of PTCL has been mired in political and legal disputes.
China Mobile is also active in the country through its Zong branded subsidiary.
Earlier this year, Singapore’s SingTel sold its 30% stake in Warid Telecom for US$150 million to the Abu Dhabi Group, giving the UAE based firm full ownership of the company.
As part of that deal, SingTel is entitled to a 7.5% share of the net proceeds if the Abu Dhabi Group sells the company or merges it with another local mobile network.