The first merger of Bangladesh’s telecom sector has come into effect with the beginning of the commercial operation of Robi as the merged company today. Following the merger of Robi and Airtel, the merged company will be known as Robi Axiata Limited. ‘Airtel’ will remain as an independent product brand of Robi Axiata.
In completing the first telecoms merger as well as the country’s largest merger, Axiata now holds 68.7% controlling stake in the combined entity, while Bharti holds 25%. The remaining 6.3% will be held by the existing shareholder, NTT DOCOMO of Japan.
The combined entity will operate under the brand name of Robi Axiata Limited and will serve approximately 32.2 million subscribers. The joint strengths of Robi and Airtel sets the stage for creating the Number One network delivering the widest mobile network coverage across Bangladesh, enhancing its stronghold in the mobile internet segment as well as consolidating its position as the second largest operator in the country.
Towards long-term growth of the Bangladesh telecoms industry
Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Robi said, “We are pleased to have reached the completion phase of the merger with Airtel. We are grateful and offer our utmost appreciation for the support of several parties, particularly our shareholders, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, as well as Robi and Airtel consumers, all of whom made this merger possible”.
“The merger strengthens the long-term sustainability of the Bangladesh telecoms landscape and business environment, and will secure faster nationwide rollout of mobile broadband as well as contribute significantly to the overall economy of the country. Our work now as a combined entity will be focused towards providing our 32.2 million subscribers an unparalleled portfolio of innovative mobile and broadband offerings at affordable rates.”
“Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) has already recognized Robi as the company that has brought in the highest amount of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country in the last consecutive five years. The merger will only embolden our shareholders to continue investing in the company in the coming years.”
Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Axiata said, “Axiata’s proven track record of successful strategic mergers and integrations in our other markets such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia has qualified the Group to lead the first telecoms merger and initiate market consolidation in Bangladesh.
“In-country consolidation has been one of the Group’s key focus in solidifying our position, unlocking profitability and synergy opportunities of the market and long term growth as well as ensuring better services to customers and the public. As a committed investor with over two decades of presence in Bangladesh, Axiata fully supports Robi’s continued efforts on nation building especially in bridging the digital divide and to achieve the Digital Bangladesh aspiration. We are confident this consolidation will secure the country’s further development not only within the telecommunications industry but also act as further impetus to fuel a more mature business and investment environment in Bangladesh.”
The completion follows the 9 September 2015 announcement of both parties entering into an exclusive discussion to explore possibility of combining the business operations in Bangladesh.
As one of the largest Asian telecommunication companies, Axiata today operates in ten countries, servicing approximately 300 million subscribers. With a diverse portfolio in mobile network operations, communications infrastructure services and digital services, the Group pieces together the best in connectivity, technology and people in its vision of Advancing Asia.
Axiata has controlling stakes in market leading mobile operators in South East Asia and South Asia. Axiata Group of companies operate under the brand name of ‘Celcom’ in Malaysia, ‘XL’ in Indonesia, ‘Dialog’ in Sri Lanka, ‘Robi’ in Bangladesh, ‘Smart’ in Cambodia and ‘Ncell’ in Nepal. Further to this, the Group also holds strategic interests in ‘Idea’ in India and ‘M1’ in Singapore.
As a committed and long-term investor, Axiata provides employment to 25,000 people within its operations. In line with its sustainability goals, the Group actively supports and drives young talent development; disaster response and recovery; as well as green initiatives.
ABOUT ROBI AS THE MERGED COMPANY
Robi Axiata Limited is a joint venture between Axiata Group of Malaysia, Bharti Airtel, of India and NTT Docomo Inc., of Japan. Axiata holds 68.7% controlling stake in the entity, Bharti holds 25% while the remaining 6.3% is held by NTT Docomo of Japan. It is the second largest mobile phone operator of Bangladesh with approximately 32.2 million active subscribers. The company provides widest network coverage to 99% of the population with over 13,900 on-air sites of which over 8,000 are 3.5G sites. Robi is the first operator to introduce GPRS and 3.5G services in Bangladesh. The company has introduced many first of its kind digital services in the country and has invested heavily in taking mobile financial services to the underserved communities in the rural and semi-urban areas. Robi, as a socially responsible brand, has taken up a number of flagship Corporate Responsibility initiatives in the areas of ICT-Education, Health and Environment with a view to contribute towards the sustainable development of the country.