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Packages sells Tetra Pak shares for $115m

March 14, 2009

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KARACHI, March 13 Packages Limited received $115 million by selling its stakes in Tetra Pak to Tetra Laval of Switzerland, said market sources.

This is a single biggest foreign private investment this year reflecting the potential of the country and willingness of the foreign investors to remain in business despite multiple crises besetting the country.

Established in 1982, Tetra Pak Pakistan Limited is a joint venture between Packages Limited and Tetra Laval International, S.A., the world's leading liquid food packaging company.

The company has yet not announced the deal officially but the market sources said the deal has already been finalised and the Packages Limited has received the amount.

The deal also showed the government's inability to sell some of its key units, which have been kept for privatisation for years, while the government is waiting for improvement in the global economic situation.

The World Bank has recently warned that developing countries would be the worst hit by the recent financial meltdown, which turned into a global economic crisis. The developed economies are already facing the full impact of the meltdown, which halted the entire economic engine of the US and other developed states.

“The Tetra Pak deal is highly encouraging for the country, especially in the wake of political instability, economic slowdown and global recession,” said a leading analyst.

He said the World Bank's warning for developing economies was shocking but Pakistan still offered potential to attract foreign investors.

The foreign direct investment remained intact as the flow of dollars continued with the almost same speed during the first seven months of the current fiscal year. According to State Bank data during the seven months (July-Jan) the country received a total $2.588 billion as FDI, which is 1.3 per cent higher than the corresponding period of previous year.

The remittances sent by the overseas Pakistanis also shot up by 19 per cent during the first eight months of the current fiscal. The only badly hit area is the portfolio investment, which is still in the 'red zone' and dollars are flying out from the shares markets.

“Once the political disturbance is settled, the country could see some good news like launching of GDRs (Global Depository Receipts) in the international market,” said a banker.

However, he said the worst hit is the banks and the banking system, which means launching of GDRs would require improvement in the global economy.

Market sources said the Packages Limited would use the amount of $115 million to repay its costly debt.

Packages Limited, established in 1956, is a joint venture between the Ali Group of Pakistan and Akerlund and Rausing of Sweden. The company is listed on all three stock exchanges in Pakistan.