Bharti Airtel, Axiata likely to merge Bangladesh operations

New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) Bharti Airtel and Malaysia’s Axiata Group on Wednesday said they have started talks to merge their operations in Bangladesh to become the second largest telecom service provider in terms of subscribers.

A joint statement said that the companies “have entered into an exclusive discussion to explore the possibility of combining the business operations of their telecommunication subsidiaries in Bangladesh; namely, Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh”.

It however mentioned there is no certainty that this discussion will lead into the execution of binding definitive agreements between the parties.

Airtel Bangladesh has customer base of over 9 million and Robi Axiata has around 28 million.

“This announcement is to facilitate the ongoing discussions and exchange of information between the parties, including but not limited to discussions with the relevant regulatory authorities,” it added.

Axiata and Bharti will issue a further announcement in the event there is any material development on this matter.

Contacted for comments, an Airtel spokesperson said: “We remain committed to Bangladesh. The proposed merger, where we will be strategic minority partner, will combine the strengths of both companies to create the second largest mobile operator in Bangladesh with over 37 million customers.

“This will lead to greater industry stability and translate into affordable and innovative products and services for customers through continued investments.”

“As stated earlier, we will continue to work towards maximising shareholder value, whether it’s by way of growing business to the next level by ourselves or by way of restructuring the portfolio including mergers and acquisitions.”

In 2010, Airtel acquired 70 percent stake in Warid Telecom of Bangladesh and in 2013, picked up the remaining 30 percent stake.

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