Bharti Airtel, Axiata to merge operations in Bangladesh

Bharti Airtel and Axiata Group Bhd have signed a definitive agreement to merge their respective telecommunication subsidiaries in Bangladesh.

Following the agreement, the companies will merge their units Robi Axiata (Robi) and Airtel Bangladesh (Airtel).

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

Post-merger, the combined entity operating as Robi will serve about 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 transaction is subject to conditions precedent including receiving applicable approvals from relevant authorities and is expected to complete in the first half of 2016.

The telecommunications landscape in Bangladesh has been one of high-growth albeit intensively competitive with six players.

The proposed merger is set to strengthen the industry structure, competitiveness and, more importantly, bring greater benefits to customers in terms of network quality and coverage and an improved offering of data products and services.

On 9 September 2015, the companies had entered into an exclusive discussion to explore possibility of combining their business operations in Bangladesh.