Bangladesh’s government is considering charging the company resulting from the merger of Axiata’s Robi and Bharti Airtel’s local unit BDT5 billion ($62.6 million) to use Airtel’s 1.8GHz spectrum.
The proposed fee is aimed at making up the difference between the price Robi paid for spectrum in 2011 and the lower price Airtel paid in 2005. Robi’s price per megahertz per year was BDT100 million, compared with just BDT15.1 million per megahertz per year for Airtel, Daily Star said.
The recommendation, along with other additional fees on the proposed merger, is being considered by the country’s prime minister, who is also the minister for telecoms.
Malaysia’s Axiata Group and India’s Bharti Airtel announced in January they will merge their operations in Bangladesh to create the country’s second largest player, behind market leader Grameenphone. The two firms had been in talks since early September.
The merger will give the combined entity a customer base of 39 million and a 28 per cent market share, pushing it past current number two Banglalink with its 24.5 per cent share.
Airtel has less than a 7 per cent market share in Bangladesh and is the fourth largest among eight operators – the four smallest have a combined share of less than 5 per cent. Grameenphone has almost a 42 per cent share, according to GSMA Intelligence.
Axiata Group and Bharti Airtel also are discussing merging their operations in Sri Lanka to create a company serving half the country’s 25 million mobile connections.