Rwanda’s Utilities Regulatory Authority cleared Bharti Airtel to acquire Millicom’s Tigo Rwanda business, as the India-headquartered operator looks to consolidate and realign its market structure in Africa.
In a statement announcing the move, Airtel said the combined business will deliver voice and data services, global roaming and mobile banking services. The new entity will lead the way in terms of market share (Airtel currently holds a 13 per cent share: Tigo 34 per cent). GSMA Intelligence data showed rival MTN held a market share of around 40 per cent at end Q4 2017.
Millicom announced the deal in December 2017. At the time, Bharti Airtel’s chairman Sunil Mittal described the move as an important step “to become a profitable and strong challenger” in the country. The acquisition forms part of a broader goal to ensure all of Airtel’s African operations begin delivering positive margins and cashflow during 2018.
Although the combined company will lead the way in terms of market share, it will rank in second place in terms of revenue, The Economic Times reported. However, it will have the largest sales and distribution network, the newspaper noted.
Earlier this week it was reported Airtel Nigeria dropped out of the running to acquire troubled 9mobile.
Revenue for Bharti Airtel’s Africa business grew 5.1 per cent year-on-year to $783 million in fiscal Q3 (calendar Q4 2017), with subscribers in the region increasing 4.7 per cent to 84.1 million.