According to China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou, the cellco plans to spend USD400 million this year to expand its network in Pakistan. China Mobile entered the Pakistan mobile market earlier this year when it acquired an 89% stake in Paktel for USD284 million, its first acquisition beyond China and Hong Kong. Wang said that the company had invested USD460 million in Paktel to date, and that China Mobile was hoping to gain experience from the venture that it could apply to further overseas expansion in the future.
Meanwhile, in a separate but related story, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is to extend a USD100 million loan and arrange a syndicated loan of USD140 million for Paktel rival Warid Telecom. According to an IFC document seen by Dow Jones Newswires, Warid Telecom is seeking the loans to finance the construction, expansion and operation of a nationwide GSM network. The project, which began in June 2006, is estimated to cost USD1.4 billion and is expected to be completed in June 2009.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, at the end of 2006 Warid claimed a 15.7% share of the country’s wireless market, while Paktel had 2.7% of users. Orascom Telecom-owned Mobilink was the market leader with 22.5 million customers and 46.5% market share, ahead of Ufone with 20.9%.