Dialog Axiata, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, is in negotiations to buy fifth-placed player Bharti Airtel Lanka for USD100 million, Ceylon Today reports. A source with knowledge of the talks told the newspaper: ‘The transaction will be a mix of cash and an equity stake in Dialog at current market prices, where the total value would be USD100 million’. In addition, the sources have revealed that Dialog Axiata is planning to transfer its cell tower operations to a separate company. Acquisition target Airtel is believed to preside over a 2,500-strong tower network in Sri Lanka, placing it on a par with Dialog.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the Sri Lankan mobile sector is ripe for consolidation. In February 2014 Sri Lanka Telecom – owner of second largest cellco Mobitel – reportedly finalised an agreement to acquire fourth-placed Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka, although the USD130 million deal has yet to be completed. Elsewhere, Etisalat of the UAE was said to be considering offloading its Sri Lankan unit in October 2014, with a number of international telecoms operators said to be interested in the asset.