Prime Minister approves Robi-Airtel Bangladesh merger

2 Aug 2016

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday gave her approval to the proposed merger of cellcos Robi Axiata and Bharti Airtel, the Daily Star reports. An official from the Telecoms Division of the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications & Information Technology (MoPTI) was quoted as saying that the PM endorsed all the clauses and conditions set by the division for the amalgamation of the two operators. Faizur Rahman Chowdhury, telecom secretary, said that the approval file will now be sent to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), with ‘only some formalities left to complete the merger,’ according to Chowdhury. The newspaper adds that the BTRC’s legal team said a court hearing on the issue has been scheduled for 4 August; if the prime minister’s approved copy is received before that date, it will be placed before court. As one condition of the deal, Robi must submit a specific plan on human resource management to the regulator to ensure job security following the merger.

On 29 January 2016 Malaysian-backed Robi and Indian-owned Airtel signed an agreement to merge in Bangladesh under the name of Robi, which would create the second largest cellco in the country. Parent groups Bharti Airtel and Axiata subsequently deferred the deadline for the merger to 26 September 2016. Under the agreement, Axiata will take a 68.3% controlling stake in the combined entity, while Bharti will hold 25%, and the remaining 6.7% will be held by Robi’s existing minority shareholder NTT DOCOMO of Japan.