Bangladesh’s Posts and Telecommunications Ministry is holding a public hearing and conducting a market impact survey to determine if the planned merger between Axiata’s Robi and Bharti Airtel’s local unit should go ahead.
Minister Tarana Halim said it doesn’t oppose the merger but has to wait for the outcome of the public hearing and market survey before giving final approval, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will hold a public hearing this week. Rival operators in the country have already said they welcome the merger.
Malaysia’s Axiata Group and India’s Bharti Airtel announced late last month they will merge their operations in Bangladesh to create the country’s second largest player behind market leader Grameenphone.
The merger will give the combined entity, Robi-Airtel, a customer base of 39 million and a 28 per cent market share, pushing it past current number two Banglalink with a 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.
Earlier in the month Moody’s said the merger will be credit positive for both Bharti and Axiata, and the new entity will have a stronger market position in Bangladesh’s highly competitive mobile telecoms market. The merger will enhance network quality and coverage and allow operational synergies without adversely affecting the credit quality of either Bharti Airtel or Axiata, Moody’s said.