PM’s Office approves Robi-Airtel merger

02 August 2016

The merger between mobile phone operators Robi and Airtel has been okayed by the Prime Minister's Office.
Telecoms regulator officials say that the clearance is significant step to the process of merging Bangladesh operations of the mobile phone companies. The fee for the merger has been fixed at Taka 1 billion.
The next step requires the operators to go the High Court's company affairs bench, where the issue of liabilities of the companies will be resolved. Once it's completed, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will initiate the final procedure to effect the merger.
"The prime minister's office gave its final approval for the merger and cleared the fee amount fixed by the ministry," State Minister for Telecoms Tarana Halim, who is now in India, told over phone.
On Jul 13 this year, a meeting at the finance ministry fixed Tk 1 billion as the fee for the merger.
BTRC and telecoms ministry officials, however, said that the spectrum unification fee could go up to Tk 5 billion. No fee would be payable for 3G spectrum allocation of up to 5Mhz. Robi currently holds 19.80 Mhz and Airtel owns 20 Mhz spectrum. Airtel's 2G licence expires in December 2020.
A united spectrum would become a 30.80Mhz after the merger. Grameenphone holds 32 Mhz, the largest spectrum share owned by any company. An agreement between the two operators for the proposed merger was signed on Jan 28. The BTRC was then intimated following which the telecoms regulators sent the estimate to the posts and telecommunications ministry recommending the merger. After the deal, they said the new entity will operate as Robi and their combined customer strengths will increase to around 40 million, which is one fourth of Bangladesh's total mobile-phone subscribers. Grameenphone, with 50 million subscribers, is the country's largest operator. Robi and Airtel began merger talks in September last year. Malaysia-based Axiata Group Berhad owns Robi and Airtel is the subsidiary of Bharti Airtel Limited of India.

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