BTRC gives final approval to Robi-Airtel merger

Tech August 02, 2017 00:04

By The Daily Star/ANN News

Robi has received the final approval from the telecom regulator on its merger with Airtel – a development that has made the new entity the second largest mobile phone operator in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) issued the 'Order of Merger of Licence' on Wednesday, after completing all formalities and receiving fees and charges for the merger.

The merged entity, to be known as Robi Axiata Ltd, served 3.87 crore customers together as of May this year, giving it a market share of 28.7 percent.

The new entity paid Tk 100 crore as merger fees in addition to several hundred more for merging the spectrum of Airtel with Robi.

Robi also has deposited a bank guarantee for some disputed sums related to unresolved value added tax issues.

The telecom regulator has issued a single licence for the new entity as Robi and Airtel were issued separate licences for 2G and 3G services, said a senior official of the BTRC.

Earlier in November last year Robi started taking control of all the business processes of Airtel soon after the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms gave them the go-ahead.

The management of Robi has welcomed the regulator's move, saying since the completion of the merger in November they have been offering competitive products for both 018 and 016 series customers.

The management said Robi's network has now become the largest in the country, which, it says, will allow it to serve its customers better.

Both the parent companies of Robi and Airtel opened talks on the merger in August 2015, and a deal between the two parties was signed in January last year.

In the merged entity, Malaysia-based Axiata, the parent company of Robi, holds a 68.7 percent controlling stake.

India's Bharti Airtel holds 25 percent share in the company while Axiata's old partner NTT DOCOMO of Japan owns 6.3 percent share.

Robi started operations in 1997 under the brand name of Aktel. The operator renewed its licence in 2011 after completing its first 15-year tenure.

Airtel entered Bangladesh in 2010 by acquiring a 70 percent stake of Warid Telecom. In 2013, it bought the remaining 30 percent.