Zong chief, executives eye potential in Pak economy
It could be gauged from the intense discussion with this scribe and some of the leading business lights at a dinner hosted Thursday night by Qazi Sajid Ali, country chief executive, BASF, one of the leading German company, with worldwide network, and doing brilliantly in Pakistan, that rumours now have been deliberately fanned.
Fears expressed in some circles that some of the top multinationals like the Citibank, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), and the ICI, are slowly packing up from this country, indicating their lack of confidence in its destiny, was set at rest. Qazi Sajid explained that ICI, a huge business chain in the world, and doing tremendously in Pakistan, will now concentrate on paints, and extract themselves out from the Chemical segment, which the BASF may acquire. ICI will continue to be in Pakistan. Similarly, Citibank is only selling its consumer banking, but will continue to concentrate on corporate side. Citibank in their enthusiasm in the last couple of decades, went ahead in credit cards and car loans etc, and because of poor court recovery system, looked disillusioned. They now have redrawn their strategy. ICI has done likewise. Two of the Pakistani textile business houses are now opting for the share they wish to part with. Citibank consumer banking is being looked into by Habib and the Faisal Banks.
Sajid Zahid, a supreme court lawyer, and also the joint senior partner in ORR, Dignam and company and Yusuf Haroon Mirza, chief executive of the Linde Pakistan Ltd, which has acquired the British Oxygen, too sharply disagreed with the negative perception. In fact Mirza was quick to point out that they wanted to spend quite a handsome amount of money in their Pakistani operation. Sajid Zahid too concurred with that view.
In an interview with this correspondent, the chairman for Zong, China Mobile Company, Fan Yun Jun, said his company has already invested 2 billion US dollars in Pakistan, which is a big market for mobile phones and with new generation blackberry, Ipod, Iphone, and Tablet pcs, coming in increasing numbers, his company was looking forward to enhancing its market share in Pakistan from present 13 percent with an investment of over 500 million US dollars. His firm was awaiting the G-3 licence auction by the government to start new products in Pakistan. He conceded that his company was losing money at present, but hoped to recover soon and then look for expansion. He saw huge scope for developing his network to more than 90 percent cities in Pakistan. He said Chinese products are available for all categories of people and pockets. High quality cell phones or tablets from China are doing very well in this country.
Jun emphasized long term commitment of his Zong company for Pakistan and expected government support in their endeavours. He said his company’s blackberry is a computer and office in consumer’s pocket.
The dinner was attended by large number of top business executive, corporate chiefs. Prominent among them were Khalil Nainitalwalla, Kaleem Faruqui, Kazi Asad Abid, Nawab Hasan Ali Khan, Nasem Sheikh, director in Shahnawaz Ltd, the sole agents for Mercedez-Benz top of the line cars in Pakistan.