The Pakistan government will soon invite foreign companies, including Chinese equipment suppliers Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp, to participate in the country's biggest telecommunications privatisation plan. Speaking on the sidelines of the ITU Telecom Asia conference in Busan, South Korea, federal minister Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications said his government was planning to offload a stake of between 25 per cent and 45 per cent in the country's monopoly carrier to foreign investors. The Pakistan Telecommunication Co Ltd (PTCL) is the country's only fixed-line carrier, with about five million phone lines. It also runs a mobile-phone unit that has 1.5 million users, or about 33 per cent of the country's total. Huawei and ZTE are the key suppliers to PTCL and are bidding for a US$20 million contract to sell wireless local loop networks - known as xiaolingtong in China - to the carrier. Both Huawei and ZTE declined to comment at this stage on the privatisation plans for PCTL. The ministry will finalise its decision on how big a stake to sell to foreign investors in the next few weeks, before it publicly invites bids. Singapore Telecommunications, Turkey's biggest GSM operator Turkcell and Orascom Telecom Holding of Egypt had also expressed interests in the bid, Mr Leghari said. The privatisation plan was part of deregulation of the technology sector in a bid to enhance profitability of state-owned firms. 'We think privatisation is what we have to do,' Mr Leghari said. He said the Pakistan government was willing to give foreign investors management control of PTCL if they were willing to invest. The government hoped to complete the privatisation within a year to speed up the growth of the telecoms company. PTCL recorded about US$1.25 billion revenue and about $860 million profit after tax last year. Due to its monopoly, PTCL enjoys high ebitda margin of 74 per cent. Mr Leghari expects the company to quadruple its earnings in two years due to strong demand for telecoms services.