Orascom Telecom’s CEO Naguib Sawiris has told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Jordan that the Egyptian group is looking at the possibility of merging its Bangladeshi mobile unit Banglalink with rival GSM operator AKTEL. Banglalink is currently second placed in Bangladesh’s cellular market, ahead of AKTEL, which is controlled by Malaysia-based Axiata (formerly TM International [TMI]), which was spun off from Telekom Malaysia in April 2008. A merger would create a much closer rival to market leader GrameenPhone, which had 47% of the country’s mobile subscribers at the end of March 2009 according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database. Sawiris said there was a need for more consolidation in some international markets, because ‘long term the smaller companies won’t be able to compete,’ and announced that Orascom was ‘in discussions now with Telekom Malaysia [sic] meaning to combine our operations.’ Sawiris also said he did not see many expansion opportunities at this stage but was keeping an eye on Cuba.
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