Airtel in talks with Axiata to combine Bangladesh biz

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Bharti Airtel today said it is in talks with Axiata of Malaysia to combine their Bangladesh operations.

There was speculation that Airtel wants to exit from the Bangladesh telecom market, where it could not get desired results. A statement issued by Airtel does not say that whether Airtel will exit from Bangladesh telecom market.

Airtel spokesperson said: “We remain committed to Bangladesh. The proposed merger, where we will be strategic minority partner, will combine the strengths of both companies to create the second largest mobile operator in Bangladesh with over 37 million customers. This will lead to greater industry stability and translate into affordable and innovative products and services for customers through continued investments.”

In 2010, Airtel acquired 70 percent stake in Warid Telecom of Bangladesh and in 2013, picked up the remaining 30 percent stake.

Bharti Airtel is the fourth largest telecom operator in Bangladesh. On the other hand, Airtel is the number telecom operator in India.

According to Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (BTRC), Grameenphone — promoted by Telenor — has 53.98 million mobile subscribers, Banglalink 32.4 million, Robi Axiata 27.9 million, Airtel Bangladesh 9 million and Pacific Bangladesh Telecom 1.1 million mobile users as in July 2015.

Airtel Bangladesh is present across 64 districts with a distribution network comprising of 152,000 retailers across the country. Airtel has 3G network with more than 2,000 3G sites across Bangladesh.

Airtel revenue from South Asia comprising Bangladesh and Sri Lanka dipped 11 percent to Rs 3,886 million in June 2015 quarter. The telecoms invested Rs 992 million in South Asia.

The revenue in Bangladesh does not make sense for Airtel to continue doing business in Bangladesh.

“Axiata Group and Bharti Airtel have entered into an exclusive discussion to explore the possibility of combining the business operations of their telecommunication subsidiaries in Bangladesh; namely, Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh,” said Airtel in a statement.

Earlier, Bharti Airtel announced its plans to exit from 4 African telecom markets as well. It was in talks with Orange for the same.

Baburajan K
editor@telecomlead.com