Indian mobile giant Bharti Airtel, which agreed to acquire a 70% stake in Warid Telecom (Bangladesh) last month, has registered the name Airtel Bangla Ltd to operate in Bangladesh, and will be ready to launch under its Airtel brand name in a month’s time, reports local newspaper The Daily Star, quoting Zia Ahmed, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The BTRC has approved the acquisition and also revealed that Bharti complied with an order to submit its investment plans by 4 February. Under the plan, Bharti is set to pay off Warid’s debts of BDT2.3 billion (USD33 million) to local financial institutions alongside ‘massive’ network expansion under an initial BDT21 billion budget. Warid (Bangladesh) launched in May 2007 and, according to the BTRC, signed up almost three million subscribers by end-December 2009, but its owner, the Dubai-based Abu Dhabi Group, previously indicated that it would need new foreign investment to continue expanding and attempt to improve its fourth-placed market position. The country’s mobile market leader GrameenPhone, a unit of Norway’s Telenor, had over 23 million customers by end-2009, followed by Banglalink, owned by Orascom Telecom of Egypt, with just under 14 million and AKTEL, the local subsidiary of Malaysian group Axiata, with around nine million.
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