Dar meets top UAE execs in bid to secure financial aid.

ISLAMABAD -- Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is in Abu Dhabi to seek financial support, including through selling minority shares of state-owned companies listed on the stock market at negotiated prices.

On the first day of his visit, Mr Dar met with the top management of multibillion-dollar public sector entities - like Abu Dhabi's state holding company ADQ, the International Holding Company (IHC) and Etisalat - to discuss investment opportunities in Pakistan.

Mr Dar's visit, expected to last until Sunday, is followed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's visit to the United Arab Emirates soon after he came to power in April and requested the Emirati leadership for $2-3bn fresh loans.

The premier was assured that UAE's leading state-owned firms and sovereign wealth funds could pick 10-15pc shareholding of publicly listed companies with a buyback option to the government of Pakistan and have their nominees on their board of directors as part of a professional business relationship instead of straight loans.

The UAE has been rolling over $2bn loans to Pakistan since 2019, the latest being in March for another year. However, the authorities have been looking for greater support, given Pakistan's limited foreign exchange reserves. Mr Dar did not comment when approached.

Things have not progressed since Mr Sharif's visit on May 1, mainly because of Pakistan's government's inability to get a proposed law passed from the parliament to allow the sale of stakes in state-owned companies through negotiated deals on a government-to-government (G2G) basis.

A similar offer from Qatar has also failed to materialise so far for the same reason, apart from slow movement on Qatar Gas's proposed LNG terminal near Karachi.

An official statement said Mr Dar met the CEOs of ADQ and IHC, Mohammed Al-Suwaidi and Syed Basar, in Abu Dhabi and discussed investment opportunities in Pakistan. The two firms 'expressed specific interest in investing in energy, agriculture, healthcare and other sectors', the statement said.

Similarly, a delegation of Etisalat also met the finance minister and informed him about its ongoing operations in Pakistan and future business plans.


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