KARACHI: Engro Corporation Ltd said on Monday it’s looking for an investment opportunity in the mobile infrastructure business, which typically involves purpose-built towers with communication equipment allowing area residents to use wireless devices.

Even though the securities filing didn’t mention the potential size of investment — or name the target of acquisition — market reports suggest the conglomerate is trying to buy the tower assets of global wireless operator Veon Ltd, which runs the Jazz mobile network in Pakistan.

A spokesman for Engro Corporation offered no comment when asked to confirm if the securities notice was indeed in relation to the potential acquisition of Veon’s tower assets.

A recent report by Bloomberg News quoted Veon CEO Kaan Terzioglu as saying that the global company was about to conclude the sale of its 10,000-12,000 mobile towers in Pakistan. The transaction size is expected to be between $600 million and $960m based on the fact that a single tower is valued at $60,000-$80,000.

Earlier in September, another listed company TPL Properties Ltd showed its interest in acquiring a telecom tower infrastructure business in Pakistan. The company didn’t state the likely transaction size or reveal the identity of the business it was trying to acquire.

However, an industry source told Dawn at the time that TPL Properties was looking at an investment of “Rs100 billion-plus”.

As for the target of acquisition, the source said at the time the company in question controlled “more than 25 per cent” of all mobile towers located across the country.

The total number of mobile towers in Pakistan is north of 40,000. Each mobile network operator (MNO) operates on average 10,000-11,000 towers. The four MNOs collectively operate more than 80pc of all mobile towers.

The rest of the infrastructure is operated by four independent tower companies. Engro Corpora­tion already operates one such firm by the name of Enfrashare, with 2,246 towers across Pakistan.

If executed, the deal will reduce the share of Veon/Jazz in the mobile tower business to zero and let it focus on revenue streams that are central to its business, analysts said.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2022

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