KARACHI: In a rather surprising move, China Mobile Pakistan, operating under the name of Zong in Pakistan, decided not to bid for Warid Telecom, sources in both the acquirer and the acquisition target confirmed.
According to sources, Etisalat and Vimplecom were the only two groups fighting to take over 100% stake in Warid Telecom.
Zong spokesperson Farooq Niaz and Wateen Telecom Director Marketing Sohaib Sheikh confirmed the news.
China Mobile, one of the favourites, opted out of the bidding process on the final day.
Zong Adviser to the CEO Sikandar Naqi also confirmed that Zong decided not to bid for Warid after conducting business evaluation of the proposition.
Earlier when Warid made it available for acquisition, Zong aggressively pursued the deal, which if happened, could get it at least 11 million subscribers and put it in second position in the market in terms of subscribers. Finance was also not an issue for the company to pull out of the deal as Zong’s parent China Mobile has over $70 billion cash in hand.
There were clear speculations that Zong had saved the money for investment in upgrading infrastructure for 3G operations, while some experts say that Warid’s high-asking prices was the bone of contention.
Zong did not clarify the reasons for pulling out of the bidding process, but said that the company had decided to invest aggressively in Pakistan in the near future.
It is expected that the outcome of the bidding will surface after Eidul Azha, somewhere around the last week of October.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2013.