The sum is only around one-third of the outstanding total of $800 million, but this could be the only way to end the lengthy standstill
In July 2005, UAE-based Etisalat purchased 26% of shares in newly privatised Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) for around $2.6 billion. However, $800 million of this payment has been withheld by Etisalat since 2010, after the Pakistani government did not transfer the title of some of its properties to PTCL as per the deal.
The row over the outstanding payments has now been ongoing for over a decade.
Now, Etisalat has offered the government a settlement of $267 million, which the Pakistani government met to discuss on Thursday. This was the second meeting in five weeks focussed on resolving the issue.
“We want to move beyond the status quo maintained on the issue for over a decade and bring the matter to a final settlement [that is] beneficial for our country and our long-term business interests,” said the Pakistani minister of finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
Despite the widely held sentiment that resolution is needed after such a long impasse, the price offered by Etisalat could be problematic.
Etisalat’s offer would allow the company to retain $533 million on account of the value of the properties whose titles could not be transferred in the name of PTCL. However, according to government figures, the outstanding value of the properties not transferred to Etisalat are worth no more than $88.
The government’s decision on this offer is still pending.
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