UAE's e& expands Pakistan operations with $385m acquisition of Telenor unit

The 100 pr cent acquisition was made through its locally listed Pakistan Telecommunication Company

E& is open to acquisitions or partnerships to diversify its portfolio, which will enable it to expand locally and overseas. Photo: e&
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The UAE's technology conglomerate e& is expanding its operations in Pakistan with the 100 per cent acquisition of Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor's local unit, aiming to cater to the South Asian country's growing telecoms market.

A binding agreement was signed by Pakistan Telecommunication Company, e&’s listed operating entity, and Fornebu-based Telenor for the acquisition of Telenor Pakistan at an enterprise value of 108 billion Pakistani rupees ($381 million), e&, formerly known as Etisalat Group, said in a statement on Thursday.

The move will allow Abu Dhabi-based e& to focus on building the best next-generation network and drive the growth of digital transformation in the country, said Hatem Dowidar, group chief executive of e&.

“The strategic acquisition of Telenor Pakistan presents a significant opportunity for market consolidation, empowering us to invest more," he said.

"This move reinforces our commitment to the progress of the country’s telecom sector, delivering added value to our customers and shareholders."

The telecom industry is going through a major transformation with the advent of new technology.

That has prompted businesses to adopt innovative technology to streamline and optimise their operations, allowing them to expand their consumer base and add new revenue lines as competition intensifies.

The e& conglomerate is open to acquisitions or partnerships to diversify its portfolio, which will enable it to expand locally and overseas, reaching a wider consumer base, the chief executives of its units previously told The National.

Pakistan’s telecommunication sector had about 197 million subscribers as of fiscal year 2022, which covers nearly 89 per cent of the population, data from the Pakistan Credit Rating Agency shows.

The sector posted a revenue of 694 billion rupees, an annual growth of 7.8 per cent, and contributed 2.7 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product during the period, the Lahore-based Pacra said.

It was also able to attract nearly $175 million in foreign direct investment, which was 14 per cent down year-on-year, it said.

The country's telecom market is projected to hit $5.15 billion by 2028, from an estimated $4.38 billion in 2023, growing at a compound annual rate of 3.28 per cent, data from Mordor Intelligence shows.

The investment from e& will help "build a prosperous and digitally connected nation" to support Pakistan’s digital transformation, said Hassan Nasir Jamy, chairman of PTCL.

"This agreement will go a long way in ensuring that we provide our customers with the most efficient and technologically advanced solutions.”

PTCL is Pakistan's national telecoms company and competes with a number of players, including Pakistan Mobile Communications, Pak Telecommunication Mobile and Special Communications Organisation.

Updated: December 14, 2023, 9:50 AM