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Pakistan to Seek $2 Billion From Bank Share Sales, OGDC Bonds

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan plans to raise as much as $2 billion from holdings in the nation’s largest banks and energy companies and from Oil & Gas Development Co. convertible bonds, according to Privatization Minister Naveed Qamar.

The government will offer some of its stock in National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Ltd., Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. and electricity producer Kot Addu Power Co. to local investors, Qamar said in an interview in the capital, Islamabad, yesterday. OGDC will market equity-linked bonds internationally, with the proceeds used to cut the budget deficit, he said.

“The market is now ready to be tested,” said Qamar, 55, who was appointed to a new streamlined Cabinet this month under a drive to cut spending. “The perception of Pakistan may be a factor in attracting investors, but if you look at the balance sheets of these companies, they are doing quite well.”

Pakistan’s new ministers are trying to revive a $167 billion economy which has been battered by militant attacks and the nation’s worst monsoon flooding. The government forecasts the deficit may widen to 8 percent of gross domestic product in the year ending June 30, up from 6.3 percent a year ago.

The bond sale, Pakistan’s first to international investors in more than three years, has been under consideration since 2008 and delayed many times as political unrest and terrorist attacks deterred potential buyers.

The government is the largest shareholder in OGDC, and will pledge its stock to guarantee the notes as part of an effort to raise between $500 million and $1 billion, he said.

Share Sales

Pakistan may raise a further $1 billion from the share sales, some of which will be completed in the current fiscal year that ends in June, according to the minister.

Shares in OGDC, the nation’s biggest energy explorer, rose 34 percent in the past 12 months compared with a 17 percent increase in the benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange index.

Emirates Telecommunications Corp., the United Arab Emirates’ largest telephone company, will pay Pakistan $800 million “very soon” under a deal to acquire a stake in Pakistan Telecommunication Co., Qamar said.

Etisalat, as the U.A.E. company is known, agreed to buy a 26 percent stake in Pakistan’s biggest telephone service provider in 2006 for $2.6 billion. Though it withheld part of the payment due to a dispute over transferring property titles, the matter has been resolved, Qamar said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at hanwar2@bloomberg.net; Khaleeq Ahmed in Islamabad at kkhan8@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Foxwell at sfoxwell@bloomberg.net.

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