The government of Pakistan has pre-qualified eight bidders for a 26% stake in fixed line operator Pakistan Telecommunications Company Ltd (PTCL), which it hopes to sell by June this year. The successful companies are Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), Telekom Malaysia, Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), Emirates Telecommunication Corp (Etisalat) Saudi Oger and Saudi Telecom Company, China Mobile and Turkcell. The government, which currently owns 88% of PTCL (the rest is owned by minority investors), hopes to make PAK115 billion (USD1.9 million) from the stake sale, with the winning bidder gaining management control of the company. 14 companies initially expressed an interest in acquiring the stake.
The government has been looking to privatise PTCL for several years now. It sold 12% of the company in 1994 and in 2003 revealed plans to sell a further tranche in December that year. The process was delayed, however, with the government reportedly in two minds over whether to split the company into three separate entities before selling the stake or keep it as a single unit. In November 2004 it decided to leave the company as it was and invited companies to enter bids for a 26% stake. At the end of 2004 PTCL had 4.84 million lines in service, and a fixed line capacity of 5.42 million.