The operator has “several options on the table” for the unit, according to Group CEO Sigve Brekke

Late last year, Norwegian operator Telenor announced that it was looking to sell its Pakistan unit, with analysts suggesting the business could fetch as much as $1 billion.

The decision came as little surprise. Telenor Pakistan had been walking a financial tightrope for years, battling for customers in a crowded and competitive market with painfully low average revenue per user (ARPU). As a result, the unit was linked to consolidation talks with rivals multiple times, though no merger deal ultimately materialised.

To make matters worse, the global economic downturn last year proved punishing for Telenor Pakistan. With high inflation and soaring energy prices, Telenor Group booked a $244 million impairment to Telenor Pakistan last summer.

Now, almost a year later, Telenor is still mulling its options for the Pakistan business, with CEO Sigve Brekke saying that discussions with potential suitors are ongoing and a sale could yet be agreed before the end of the year.

“We are in contact with various parties — that’s a part of the strategic review we are doing now — and we have several options on the table,” explained CEO Sigve Brekke in an interview, as reported by Bloomberg. “Before the end of this year, we will have made the decision.”

Exactly who these potential suitors might be remains to be seen. Earlier this year, rumours were circulating that Pakistan Telecommunication Co (PTCL) could be interested in the acquisition, with the company being authorised to submit a binding offer for the takeover of an unspecified mobile operator earlier this year.

PTCL has since described such reports as “premature” and “speculative”.

It is worth noting that the sale would follow Telenor’s wider strategy of pulling back from its Asian operations in favour of its key markets in Europe.

In recent years, the company’s Thai unit, DTAC, has agreed to merge with True Corp, while its Malaysian unit is being combined with Axiata’s Celcom. Its Burmese unit, Telenor Myanmar, meanwhile, was essentially written off after military coup in 2021, ultimately being sold to Lebanese M1 Group last year.

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