Chinese-backed cellco Zong has confirmed its interest in buying rival wireless operator Warid Telecom and has tasked Dubai-based firm MAS ClearSight to evaluate the deal and assist with the purchase. The News quotes Sikander Naqi, Zong’s chief public relations officer as saying: ‘We are looking into Warid very seriously and it does make a lot of business sense for us to go with the deal. Zong has grown exponentially in the last three years and today we stand as the fastest growing network in Pakistan with over 22 million customers and are continuing to grow on a very fast pace. Our parent company, China Mobile has strong financials to go through with this deal and with USD70 billion cash in hand, we already have been given a mandate to go forward with the bid and we are anxiously waiting to see how it turns out.’
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Zong’s parent company, China Mobile, took control of the cellco – then known as Paktel – in 2007 and reversed the provider’s fortunes, successfully increasing its market share from 2.6% at the end of that year to 10% by mid-2010 and 16.2% by end-June 2013. A merger with Warid Telecom would give the combined entity a subscriber base of around 33 million and a market share of 26.1%, leapfrogging its larger rivals Telenor Pakistan and Pakistan Telecommunications Mobile Ltd (PTML) to take second place in the sector behind Vimpelcom-owned Mobilink.