Etisalat to withhold Pakistan payment once again

26 Mar 2010

Despite reports at the start of the year that UAE-based Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) would make a payment of USD800 million to the Pakistani government by the end of March as part of its 2006 acquisition of a 26% stake in Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), it looks as though the Middle Eastern company will once again withhold payment, the fifth month in row it has done so. According to Gulfnews the dispute between Etisalat and the Pakistani government over the transfer of real estate units remains unresolved, with Mohammad Omran, Etisalat chairman, noting: ‘Until now, the government has not released a list of properties to be converted [to PTCL ownership]. When the list is released, the money will be paid.’

Etisalat has said it is withholding the USD799 million worth of payments until properties that were originally part of the company’s 2006 acquisition of a 26% stake in PTCL are registered in the Pakistani operator’s name. Pakistan’s Ministry of Privatisation (MOP) meanwhile has confirmed that Etisalat’s next payment is due 31 March 2010, noting that of the 311 properties that formed part of the 2006 transaction, 118 have already been transferred to PTCL, while a further 17 are ‘under some litigation’. ‘We have already approached provincial governments to put value to the properties in their respective provinces,’ said Shahab Khawaja, federal secretary at MOP, adding, ‘Final valuation has not been conveyed. As soon as we get it, [the] same will be conveyed to Etisalat and PTCL.’

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