Bharti Airtel and Axiata to merge Bangladesh units

Bharti Airtel and Axiata have signed an agreement to merge their units in Bangladesh.

The combined entity – called Robi – will have over 39 million mobile subscribers. The agreement follows an announcement in September 2015 that both companies would enter into an exclusive discussion to explore a potential merger of their operations in Bangladesh.

"There is a compelling rationale for bringing together the strengths of both entities," said Gopal Vittal, CEO, India and South Asia, at Bharti Airtel. "The combined entity will be well positioned to leverage the operational synergies to serve customers better with world-class services and contribute to the growth of the telecommunications sector in Bangladesh."

Upon completion, Axiata will hold 68.3% stake in the group while Bharti will own 25%. The remaining 6.7% stake will be held by existing Japanese shareholder NTT DoCoMo.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016, subject to approval from authorities in Bangladesh. 

"Going forward, the combined capabilities of Robi and Airtel will be directed towards providing customers an unparalleled portfolio of innovative mobile and broadband offerings at affordable rates," said Supun Weerasinghe, CEO of Robi Axiata.

"We believe this to be a powerful differentiating factor and a very compelling value proposition for our customers," he added.