China Mobile, Telenor holding talks for merger - Telecom

LAHORE: Negotiations on merger of two cellular firms are under way, Dawn has learnt.

According to sources, Telenor group is interested to sell its shares in Pakistan and is holding talks with the China Mobile.

Though both the operators have denied any such development, sources said that negotiations were being held secretly at the group level.

Though Telenor, a Norwegian company, has a subscriber-base of 20 million or so in Pakistan, it has been deliberating to sell its management shares since long because of 'security issues'.

The Telenor group has already focused on India for investment, as it recently sought to buy about 67 per cent shares of Unitech Wireless and telecom arm of Unitech Ltd in India.

The Indian market is experiencing a major growth in mobile penetration and currently it stands at 27 per cent with a total population of about 1.2 billion.

There has been a lot of potential in the market and the global operators see it a best place for future market.

China Mobile's first international business venture, Zong, currently has over six million subscribers.

Before the merger talks with the Telenor group, the China Mobile had offered to buy the management shares of Warid Telecom Pakistan.

However, deal could not materialise owing to price issue.

Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone, Warid and Zong (CM-Pak) have reportedly conveyed to the PTA that there was a room for only 'four' players.

A PTA official said there were chances that by 2010, the country may have four operators.

The number of cell-phone users in Pakistan has reached over 90 million. Though Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) shows declining trend over the last few years, aggressive marketing and expansion of network has enabled mobile operators to grab more subscribers on their networks.

Source dawn.com

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