The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has requested a third-party impact study on the proposed merger of local cellcos Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh, and has approached the Department of International Business under the Faculty of Business Studies at Dhaka University and the Faculty of Engineering at American International University to submit their estimated costs for the study. BTRC secretary Sarwar Alam told BDNews24 that the study was imperative as it was the first time that two Bangladeshi mobile operators had decided to consolidate. The report will focus on areas including: the impact of the merger on mobile market competition; the general socio-economic impact of the merger; strategies to deal with any envisaged negative effects; employment issues and the companies’ proposed provisions for employees not willing to join the merged entity; potential impact on users’ services and rights; share capital issues; and an examination of whether the consolidation will affect spectrum auctions and the government’s revenue earnings. The study should be completed within eight weeks. Malaysian/Japanese-backed Robi and Indian-owned Airtel – Bangladesh’s third and fourth largest cellcos by users, respectively – sought permission for the merger from the BTRC in September.
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