Profit spends an inordinate time on company websites: it’s often the most useful resource out there in terms of gleaning information. We have seen all sorts of websites: the slick, the janky, the suspicious, the ostentatious.
But perhaps the saddest website we have ever come across is PECO’s (Pakistan Engineering Company Ltd). Just a pixelated shot of a lone transformer with the heading ‘Coming Soon’ superimposed on top. We will be back soon, PECO repeats, in a feeble attempt to convince the reader.
Will it, though?
PECO’s rise and spectacular fall is worthy of a few seasons of Netflix crime shows. We don’t have Pakistani scriptwriters sending off their best work to the network giant yet, but we have the next best thing: detailed Profit stories. As we wrote in 2019: this is the story of a company you may never have heard of, but one that includes just about every ingredient of corporate drama that you can imagine. There are allegations of embezzlement, corruption, potential insider trading and what may well be a high-stakes battle for the control of a publicly listed company with a substantial shareholding of the government.
Exactly how many dramas can one company have? Since 2019, the company has simply gotten worse. There is no update to the financial data we printed three years ago, because there have been no quarterly or annual reports since then. But there have been numerous legal headaches since then. Primarily, this is a tale in three parts. We’ll start with the latest sorry tale, and work our way backwards.