Norway’s Telenor said on Thursday it had agreed to sell its Pakistan unit to state group Pakistan Telecommunications in a transaction valuing the unit at 5.3 billion Norwegian crowns ($490 million).
The Norwegian group has been restructuring its Asian businesses, building bigger units in Thailand and Malaysia via local mergers, and had said it hoped to decide on a solution for the Pakistan business by year-end.
“We also tried to do a merger in Pakistan but we didn’t manage to get that, and when we saw this wasn’t happening the second-best alternative was to arrange a sale,” Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke told Reuters.
“It was a combination of not getting the structure in place, and value. So we found a sale was better for our shareholders,” he added.
Telenor Pakistan, launched 18 years ago, has 45 million customers.
Pakistan Telecommunications’ share price rose 8.3% on Thursday, while Telenor’s was up 1.1% at 0837 GMT.
In the first nine months, Telenor Pakistan contributed 2.6 billion crowns in service revenue and 1.4 billion crowns in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to the group.
The deal is subject to regulatory approvals, and the aim is to close it during 2024. The sale was not estimated to have a significant impact on financials for 2023, Telenor said.
Telenor’s remaining Asian portfolio consists of stakes in Grameenphone in Bangladesh, CelcomDigi in Malaysia and True Corp in Thailand, with close to 160 million customers combined.
“Telenor Asia will remain an active owner for the three market-leading businesses which make up our Asian portfolio,” said the head of the company’s operation in the region, Petter-Boerre Furberg. Reuters