The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will hold a public hearing on 17 February 2016 on the planned merger of the country’s third and fourth placed mobile network operators Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh, BDNews24 reports. An announcement from the regulator says that the public hearing will involve all stakeholders, including subscribers’ associations, with the aim to ‘settle the merger issue’. Participants must apply online via the BTRC’s website by 8 February, and those selected will be informed on 15 February about further details of the hearing. Individuals and organisations can also send their views on the merger by writing to the BTRC chairman by 17 February.
As reported previously by CommsUpdate, Malaysia’s Axiata Group and India’s Bharti Airtel signed a definitive agreement to merge their subsidiaries in Bangladesh on 28 January, reducing the country’s number of mobile network operators to five. The combined entity, to operate under the Robi brand, accounted for over 39 million customers at end-December 2015, and would overtake Banglalink (32.87 million users at end-2015) as the country’s second largest operator behind GrameenPhone, which had 56.68 million subscribers at year-end. Under the agreement of undisclosed value, Axiata will take a 68.3% controlling stake in the combined entity, while Bharti will hold 25%, and the remaining 6.7% will be held by Robi’s existing minority shareholder NTT DOCOMO of Japan.