Telenor, the parent company of Grameenphone, is winding down ekhanei.com today as it could not transform the online classifieds site into a sustainable and profitable business.
“The decision to close down ekhanei.com was not an easy one,” Atle Lessum, a vice-president of Telenor Group, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Bangladesh's online classifieds market is yet to develop in line with the Norwegian company's expectation, according to the group.
Telenor's partners in ekhanei.com namely Schibsted and Naspers have agreed with the decision.
“Based on the fact that after years of business in Bangladesh, we have not been able to build a resilient, strong and sustainable business, it was a decision we felt we had to take,” said Lessum in an e-mail interview.
“As the owner we are constantly assessing our portfolio, and based on this internal evaluation we decided to close down ekhanei.”
Telenor, one of the world's major mobile phone operators with 214 million active mobile customers, took the decision recently because of its inability to develop the company into a profitable business, according to a statement of the group.
The group entered the online classifieds market in Bangladesh in 2013 acquiring some sites.
Telenor, together with international media group Schibsted, acquired 50 percent stake in an ecommerce site and 33.33 percent in another.
In 2015, further joint ventures were established with Naspers in four countries, including Bangladesh.
Telenor and Schibsted together held 50.3 percent stake in the new venture, while the rest was owned by Naspers, the parent company of OLX.com.bd.
Ultimately, Telenor had 25 percent indirect ownership in ekhanei.com.
The affected employees will be offered “severance packages” as per Telenor's policies.
About profit and loss, Lessum said, “I can't comment on earnings up until closing, but the company is closing down completely and will not be continued in another form.”
Though Telenor has decided to close one of its joint ventures, Grameenphone is doing well with GP Shop, which sells various gadgets.
Telenor Health AS, another e-service of the group in Bangladesh, is also faring well, industry stakeholders said.