Telecard Joins Stake Sellers’ Group

The News has this story on Telecard considering selling some of its stake to a foreign group:

The country’s pioneer and the largest payphone companies are in talks with foreign groups to sell off its share, what the industry believes is an attempt to attract investment for expansion.

TeleCard – one of few payphone companies in the country has planned to sell out its minority shares to one of the foreign business groups, it is in talks to and is expected to reach deal in the days to come.

“Actually the company has initiated talks with a UAE group and there are several other intentional players, which it eyes to engage in,” said a source privy to the company officials.“Though the company has not reached any conclusion with any group, it is expected to review offer of the different groups it has received.”

He said the company had almost decided total percentage of the company shares to be sold off but it had not yet disclosed the details. However, he said, the company officials believe it took more than anticipated time to strike deal for the desired sell off.

The country has witnessed a series of foreign takeovers in recent months as two foreign groups have already acquired majority stakes in local companies. First Qatar Telecom stretched its wings to Pakistan, entering into final talks to acquire Burraq Telecom with nationwide and intentional telephony networks at $30 million.

Then it was Egyptian Orascom Telecom – parent company of the largest cellular operator Mobilink – that finalised deal with DVCOM, a licensed LDI (long distance and international) and limited mobility telecom operator.

However, source said the TeleCard was more interested in selling out minority shares keeping management control in hand with majority stakes.“It’s a little early to suggest percentage planned to sell out but it would obviously be minority shares as the company wants to keep management control intact,” added the source.

He said the company had plans to expand its fixed line network across the country for which it looked for investment against shares sell off.“Currently TeleCard operates payphone and WLL (wireless local loop) services with also an ISP (Internet service provider in place,” he added.

He said TeleCard was ready to evolve as the most technological advanced integrated telecom solution provider of the country. “The company has successfully launched WLL service (GO CDMA) based on CDMA2000 1 X technology that provides the unique combination of voice and data/internet for the first time in Pakistan,” he added.

The country telecom sector has fast attracted foreign during last three years with main focus on cellular service. However, industry players believe it’s a high time for reputed intentional telecom operators to capitalise on opportunity in Pakistan, which offers one of the best business opportunities in its rural areas.

The country’s telecom sector has attracted $1.41 billion foreign direct investment during the first nine months of 2006-07, retaining top position among all other sectors. Figures released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics suggest foreign investment in the telecom jumped 34 per cent during July-March 2007.

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