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Dhaka Tribune

PMO asks Robi, Airtel to hand in more documents for merger

Update : 11 Apr 2016, 01:43 AM
Before finalising its approval for Robi-Airtel merger, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the two cellphone companies to submit a set of documents relating to their properties and financial health respectively.
The notice was served yesterday by the PMO with an immediate effect, according to a Telecommunication Division official. Prior to dispatching the merger documents to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Telecommunication Division added a recommendation to it. The recommendation was to charge a merger fee. On April 7, the division sent the report of Robi-Airtel merger to the PMO to get its final nod. A telecom source said the merger fee has newly been introduced, following the neighbouring country’s example. He termed it very reasonable. Since the two companies would benefit simultaneously, the government can rather demand a charge as part of its providing new facility. Earlier, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) held a public hearing on merger agreement of Robi and Airtel that mostly went in favour of the merger deal. The regulatory body also formed a two-member expert committee to make a market analysis report which was also in favour of the deal. Industry insiders said the 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 January 29, Robi and Airtel signed a merger agreement in Kuala Lumpur to venture into a joint business operation in Bangladesh. The joint venture will be named as Robi. According to a recent Robi statement, the combined entity operating as Robi will serve approximately 40 million customers. The joint strength 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 merger will strengthen long-term sustainability of Bangladesh telecom landscape and market structure, secure faster nationwide roll-out of mobile broadband and contribute significantly to the overall economy and revenue of the country. The telecommunications landscape in Bangladesh has been one of high-growth, but intensively competitive with six players. Upon completion, Axiata will hold 68.3% controlling stake in the combined entity while Bharti will hold 25%. The remaining 6.7% will be held by the existing shareholder, NTT DOCOMO of Japan.
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