The State Bank of Pakistan has been approached to obtain regulatory permissions for a possible financial deal between the PTCL Group and Telenor Pakistan, expected to be finalized by next month.

The PTCL Group is negotiating a loan of up to $400 million from a consortium of the World Bank’s lending arm of private sector, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and a Chinese firm. It is expected that the possible deal will be finalized by November 2023.

“The PTCL Group has approached a consortium of lenders including World Bank’s lending arm for private sector and a Chinese firm to secure loan of $350 to $400 million to purchase Telenor Pakistan,” top official sources confirmed while talking to The News here on Friday.

Many questions have arisen over this possible deal. It is yet to be ascertained whether the chairman of PTCL Board has taken approval of the ECC and the cabinet. How will this amount be transferred to another country as the selling party wants the funds in their foreign currency accounts? Has the SBP granted its approval in these economic conditions? What will happen to the transfer of properties in the name of PTCL due to which $800 million got stuck up in the last one and a half decades? Will this lingering controversy over the $800 million outstanding amount be resolved? Is the interim government fully authorized to make such big decisions?

The government is going to sell its assets to foreign investors. But in the case of this deal, the government would enhance its liability burden under which its stakes holding company would secure more dollar loans. There are federal secretaries representing the government of Pakistan in the PTCL’s Board, so how do they grant their nod if the GOP holds majority stakes in PTCL?

All these pertinent questions need proper answers before finalizing this transaction.

The IFC spokesperson said: “We are currently in the final stages of commitment, so we are unable to comment on this transaction currently. Happy to speak to you once this is finalized”. This scribe also sent out a question to the spokesperson of SBP but got no reply.

When Telenor’s Board holds its meeting probably by the end of November and grants its assent, then the regulatory procedural approvals would be sought from the respective regulators, including PTA and CCP.

Meanwhile, Federal Secretary IT held a meeting with visiting Telenor’s Head of Asia Børre Furberg in his office on Friday. According to an official announcement made here, Federal Secretary for IT and Telecom Hassan Nasir Jamy has said the government is taking vigorous steps to provide maximum facilities to the telecom sector.


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2023-10-21

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