The Islamabad High Court has given its seal of approval for the merger of Pakistani mobile operators Mobilink and Warid Telecom, reports The News International. The amalgamation gives over 51 million Mobilink/Warid customers access to an enlarged 3G and LTE network footprint and service range. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, VimpelCom and Abu Dhabi Group, the respective parents of Mobilink and Warid, agreed to combine their businesses in November last year, and a share swap – which saw Mobilink acquire 100% of the shares in Warid, whilst Abu Dhabi Group shareholders acquired a 15% stake in Mobilink – was completed in July 2016. VimpelCom noted at the time that the transaction is expected to create CAPEX and OPEX synergies with a net value of around USD500 million, with an annual run rate of more than USD100 million of free cash flow improvements by year three. The High Court backing for a legal merger of the two companies was the final necessary approval for the consolidation, which had already been rubber-stamped by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the Competition Commission (with conditions), the country’s Securities & Exchange Commission, shareholders, creditors and the state bank.
Aamir Ibrahim, CEO of Mobilink and Warid stated: ‘The approval from Islamabad High Court marks a major and absolute milestone in our bid to merge the two businesses. Through this, Pakistan’s digital development will be elevated to the next level, further reducing the digital divide as we transform the merged company from a legacy telecom to a leading technology company.’