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Pakistan raises $ 279 million in airwave sales with just one bidder

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(Bloomberg) – Pakistan raised $ 279 million in a sale of basic cost telecommunications spectrum, Pakistan Telecommunications Mobile Ltd. being the sole bidder in an auction that was snubbed by the country’s other three major telephone operators.

Ufone, a unit of Pakistan Telecoms, won nine megahertz in the 1800 megahertz band, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said in a statement on Friday. Pakistan Telecom will pay half of the amount of the offer within 15 days and the remainder over five years, the statement said. The total value of the two spectrum bands offered was $ 832 million at base price, the regulator said, adding that no offer had been made for the 2,100 megahertz band.

Jazz, a unit of Veon Ltd., Zong of China Mobile Ltd. and Telenor Pakistan – who are all engaged in a legal battle with the regulator over the renewal of their existing spectrum fees – did not participate in the process, the first such auction since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office three years ago. Veon CEO Kaan Terzioglu said earlier this month that Pakistani telecommunications spectrum should be priced in rupees rather than dollars because the price is not sustainable.

Spectrum policy, pricing and deployment obligations have deterred Telenor from participating in the sale of the airwaves, spokesman Saad Warriach said after the tender closed on Thursday. The existing circumstances did not present the economic viability of investing in spectrum at this year’s auction, he said.

Pakistan’s mobile subscriber base has reached 84.4% of the country’s 220 million people, according to data from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.

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