Axiata, Airtel in talks to merge in Bangladesh

telecomasia.net

Malaysia's Axiata Group and India's Bharti Airtel have commenced talks exploring the possibility of merging their operations in Bangladesh.

The companies are in exclusive discussions over a potential merger of Robi Axiata with Airtel Bangladesh, Axiata Group disclosed in a market filing.

The filing states that there is no certainty that the talks will lead to a deal, and that the discussions are being announced to facilitate the negotiations as well as discussions with regulators.

Airtel has been rumored to be considering selling its mobile operations in Bangladesh as well as Sri Lanka as part of plans to reduce debt and exit from low-margin businesses.

A merger could be an alternate means of addressing the low profit margins from Bangladesh while maintaining a presence in the market.

For its part, Axiata recorded a strong performance in Bangladesh for 2014 but warned that regulatory risks in the market could impact its earnings for the current financial year.

According to the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, as of January 2015 Robi Axiata had a 22% share of the nation's mobile market with 26.3 million customers. Airtel Bangladesh meanwhile had a 6% share with 7.7 million active subscribers.

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