Etisalat ‘offers $275m’ for final payment on PTCL purchase

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Etisalat is asking for $525 million to be cut from the $800 million debt it owes the government of Pakistan for its stake in incumbent operator PTCL.

The government seems ready to accept Etisalat’s proposal, according to reports from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

The government said in an official statement: “We want to move beyond the status quo maintained on the issue for over a decade and bring the matter to a final settlement beneficial for our country and our long-term business interests”

The statement was attributed to Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, an adviser to the prime minister on finance and revenue.

Etisalat took a 26% stake in PTCL in 2005 for an agreed price of $2.6 billion, and took management control, but was late in paying instalments from the start. According to reports, it paid a first $1.4 billion at the end of 2009.

At a meeting in Islamabad with officials from Abu Dhabi, including the crown prince, Etisalat offered $275 million to settle the long-running dispute, instead of the $800 million still owed.

Much of the argument has focused on the ownership of PTCL’s individual properties. Pakistan claimed the company owned only 3,248 properties but it mentioned 3,384 in the privatisation agreement finalised in 2006. But Etisalat said that 363 properties were in dispute.