Russian-backed, Amsterdam headquartered telecoms giant Vimpelcom Group has hired Citigroup Inc to advise on the potential acquisition of Warid Telecom from Abu Dhabi Group, Reuters reports, citing two sources familiar with the matter. The announcement follows on the heels of the revelation that Etisalat, through its Pakistani unit Pakistan Telecommunications Company Ltd (PTCL), is interested in snapping up the cellco and has hired Goldman Sachs to advise on the planned takeover. The sources also noted that China Mobile’s rapidly expanding Pakistani subsidiary China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak), which operates under the ‘Zong’ brand, is also expected to weigh-in to compete for the cellco.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Vimpelcom’s local unit Mobilink claimed a 29.8% share of the wireless market at the end of March 2013, followed closely by Norwegian-backed rival Telenor Pakistan. PTCL’s ‘Ufone’-branded mobile division followed with 18.9% of the sector, whilst Zong claimed 15.4%. Warid meanwhile represented just 10.2% of the space, down from 12.1% a year earlier, as the rise of Zong has eroded the cellco’s subscriber base.