Etisalat withholds payments to Pakistan government
UAE operator involved in US$1bn contractual dispute relating to its 26% stake in Pakistan operator PTCL
UAE operator Etisalat has withheld almost US$1 billion in payments to the government of Pakistan for its stake in the county's largest telecom operator, PTCL, according to UAE daily the National.
The UAE incumbent operator agreed to pay $2.6bn in installments for a 26% stake in fixed line and internet provider PTCL at the start of 2006, but it has not made any payments for the past year because properties in Pakistan that were part of the deal have not been handed over to Etisalat.
"Transfer of land is part of the contract," Etisalat chairman, Mohammed Omran, told the newspaper. "It says if it doesn't happen we can stop the payments.
"We have estimates but we don't want to discuss specific numbers outside for contractual reasons. I can tell you the properties are in main cities and very valuable," he added.
An unnamed senior Pakistan government official reportedly said that the government was owed almost $1bn and that Etisalat had not made any payments for a year.
Senior Etisalat managers have met with Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, in a bid to resolve the situation.