Robi Axiata, Airtel seek Bangladeshi telecom regulator’s approval to merge ops

Robi-Axiata website.

In an update of the Robi Axiata-Airtel merger, both companies have formally applied to the telecom regulator in Bangladesh for permission to merge their operations, which will create the second largest mobile operator network in the South Asian country after Grameenphone.

Bangladeshi media The Daily Star said both the operators plan to start the integration process next week, with the view to completing the merger by January next year, according to senior executives of Robi and Airtel.

To recap, Bharti Airtel Ltd, the world’s third largest telco by subscribers, had three weeks ago entered into exclusive discussions with Malaysia’s Axiata Group Berhad to explore a possible merger of their respective telecom units in Bangladesh, Robi Axiata Ltd and Airtel Bangladesh Ltd.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) spokesperson Md Sarwar Alam said: “We received a joint application. The approval process will start in a short while.”

The merger will also require the government approval, on top of the regulator’s recommendation, to go through, he added.

As per the joint application, Robi and Airtel’s spectrum will be allocated to the merged entity. The necessary changes and arrangements in numbers will be attained without imposing any costs to customers, according to the letter.

Robi will have a 75 per cent stake in the merged entity and Airtel 25 per cent, according to the joint application signed by Robi chief executive Supun Weerasinghe, and Airtel Bangladesh managing director PD Sarma, to the telecom regulator.

Of Robi’s 75 per cent stake, 70 per cent will be owned by Axiata Group, Robi’s Malaysia-based parent company, and 5 per cent by Japan’s NTT DOCOMO.

Currently, Axiata Group’s has a 91.59 per cent stake in Robi while NTT DOCOMO holds 8.41 per cent.

As of July, Robi’s customer base stood at 2.79 crore and Airtel’s approximately 91 lakh, the online website reported, citing BTRC data. The combined entity will have the second largest subscriber base in Bangladesh. Grameenphone, the largest operator, has 5.3 crore subscribers.

After the merger, Banglalink, the second largest operator with 3.2 crore subscribers, will come under tremendous pressure from competitors.

 

Also read:

Airtel in talks with Axiata to merge telecom units in Bangladesh

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Axiata eyes stake in Vietnam’s MobiFone

Axiata to invest $2.6m in US-based WSO2 Telco Inc for 70% stake

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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