Bangladeshi cellcos Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh, owned by Malaysia’s Axiata and India’s Bharti Airtel respectively, have applied to the local telecoms regulator for permission to merge their operations, it has been revealed in an update to the previously announced negotiations between the two rivals. The Daily Star, quoting senior executives of Robi and Airtel, wrote that the pair hope to complete a merger deal by January 2016 to leapfrog Vimpelcom’s subsidiary Banglalink as Bangladesh’s second-largest mobile provider behind Telenor’s GrameenPhone unit. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) confirmed that it has received a joint application, whilst noting that the merger will require separate government approval on top of the regulator’s recommendation. According to the merger plan, Axiata would take a 70% stake in the enlarged cellco, with Bharti Airtel holding 25% and a 5% stake retained by Japan’s NTT DOCOMO, which is an existing minority shareholder in Robi.
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