Robi-Airtel merger okayed

Bangladesh’s first ever merger proposal of two mobile phone operators – Robi and Airtel – has got the final approval from the telecom regulator.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in a meeting today cleared the proposal terming it as a “positive move” for the telecom industry of the country, BSS reports.

Talking to BSS, BTRC Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood said they have approved the merger 2016-10-18_bss-47_359532proposal as it is in line with the consent of the High Court.

Terming the merger as good, the chairman hoped it would bring positive change to the industry.

Replying to the queries regarding payment and spectrum, Dr Mahmood said they made some observations, but those are “minor”.

With the final approval of the BTRC, way of amalgamation of both the operators has been cleared.

“Making the payment with fulfilling the terms and conditions, they (robi and airtel) could merge,” added the BTRC Chairman.

About the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), he said they have approved four basics for the VRS to protect the employee’s interest.

Officials said Robi and airtel would complete the amalgamation process within a month. The High Court on August gave nod to the merger proposal.

On August 1, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also the Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, gave her consent to the amalgamation with merger fee of Taka 100 crore and per Megahertz 2G spectrum fees of Taka 33.8 crore.

At present, Airtel is using 15 MHz of 2G spectrum and its license would expire in 2020. If Robi acquires the entire spectrum, the operator has to deposit a total of Taka 507 crore to the telecom regulator.

Robi and Airtel opened talks on a possible merger at the end of August, 2015, and on January 28, the operators’ parent companies signed a deal to that effect. If merged, the entity will be the second largest operator in Bangladesh.

In the merged entity, Axiata, the parent company of Robi, will hold 68.7 percent controlling stake, Bharti Airtel 25 percent and NTT DOCOMO of Japan 6.3 percent.

Currently, Malaysia-based Axiata has 91.59 percent stakes in Robi and Japan’s DOCOMO 8.41 percent, meaning both their shares in the Bangladeshi operation will be diluted after the merger. After the merger Robi will be the second largest operator after Grameenphone.