All the paperwork for the much-talked-about merger of Robi and Airtel was completed yesterday after the Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms gave it the go-ahead.
The merger fee of Tk 100 crore and spectrum charge of about Tk 348 crore now need to be paid by November 28 for all the formalities to be complete.
“We are pleased to have reached the completion phase of the merger with Airtel,” said Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, managing director and CEO of Robi.
Robi started the consolidation process; more than 200 executives of Airtel joined Robi, while around 137 will leave under a voluntary retirement scheme.
Robi will soon take control of all the business processes of Airtel.
Ahmed said the merger strengthens the long-term sustainability of the telecom landscape of Bangladesh and will secure faster nationwide rollout of mobile broadband as well as contribute significantly to the overall economy.
“The joint strengths of Robi and Airtel set the stage for creating the number one network and delivering the widest mobile network coverage across Bangladesh,” Ahmed said.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority has recognised Robi as the company that has brought in the highest amount of foreign direct investment into the country in the last five years, Robi said in the statement.
“The merger will only embolden our shareholders to continue investing in the company in the coming years,” Ahmed added.
As a committed investor with over two decades of presence in Bangladesh, Axiata supports Robi's efforts to bridge the digital divide and achieve the Digital Bangladesh aspiration, said Jamaludin Ibrahim, its president and group CEO.
Currently, there are 79.43 lakh active connections under the network of Airtel, for which the 016 prefix and the Airtel branding will be retained for the next two years at least.
Robi has 2.32 crore active customers as of August, according to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission's data.
The merged company will be known as Robi Axiata Limited and it will become the second largest operator in the country, both in terms of subscribers and revenues.
The combined entity will serve approximately 3.22 crore subscribers.
As of August, Grameenphone's total active connections stood at 5.45 crore and Banglalink's 2.9 crore, according to BTRC.
Both the parent companies of Robi and Airtel opened talks on a possible merger at the end of August 2015, and a deal was signed on January 28 this year.
In the merged entity, Axiata, the parent company of Robi, will hold a 68.7 percent controlling stake.
Bharti Airtel will hold a 25 percent share in the company and Axiata's old partner NTT DOCOMO of Japan 6.3 percent. Currently, Malaysia-based Axiata had a 91.59 percent stake in Robi and NTT Docomo 8.41 percent.
Airtel entered Bangladesh in 2010 by acquiring a 70 percent stake in Warid Telecom. Later in 2013, it picked up the remaining 30 percent shares. Its licence expires in 2018.
Robi started operations in 1997 under the brand name of Aktel. The operator renewed its licence in 2011 after completing its first 15-year tenure.