Airtel, Axiata to merge operations in Bangladesh

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New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) Axiata Group and Bharti Airtel on Thursday signed an agreement to merge their respective telecommunication subsidiaries in Bangladesh, Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh, a joint statement said here.

The agreement follows the September 9, 2015 announcement of both parties to enter into an exclusive discussion to explore possibility of combining the business operations in Bangladesh.

Upon completion, Axiata will hold 68.3 percent controlling stake in the combined entity, while Bharti will hold 25 percent. The remaining 6.7 percent will be held by existing shareholder, NTT DOCOMO of Japan.

“The highly competitive and crowded Bangladesh telecommunications sector solicits consolidation and we believe this merger will form greater economies of scale for both Groups. Additionally, it will result in shared investment capacity of the leading two industry players to optimise strategies and deliver enhanced value to consumers, benefitting the industry at large,” said Robi CEO Supun Weerasinghe.

Post-merger, the combined entity operating as Robi will serve approximately 40 million customers.

“The joint strengths of Robi and Airtel will deliver the widest mobile network coverage across Bangladesh, strengthening its position in the mobile internet segment as well as consolidating its position as the second largest operator in the country.

“The proposed merger will strengthen the long-term sustainability of the Bangladesh telecom landscape and market structure, secure faster nationwide rollout of mobile broadband and contribute significantly to the overall economy and revenue of the country,” the statement said.

“In line with Axiata’s merger and acquisition strategy, in-country consolidation has been one of the group’s key focus in solidifying its position, unlocking profitability of the market and ensuring long term growth,” said Axiata president and group CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim.

“The combined entity will be well positioned to leverage the operational synergies to serve customers better with world-class services and contribute to the growth of the telecommunications sector in Bangladesh,” said Bharti Airtel MD and CEO (India and South Asia), Gopal Vittal.

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