New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Limited, Asia’s leading integrated telecom services provider, today announced that it has agreed to acquire 70% stake in Warid Telecom, Bangladesh, currently a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dhabi Group. Warid Telecom offers mobile services across all the 64 districts of Bangladesh and has a total customer base of over 2.9 million.
Under the agreement, Bharti Airtel will make a fresh investment of USD 300 million to rapidly expand the operations of Warid Telecom and will have management and board control of the company. This is the largest investment in Bangladesh by an Indian company. Dhabi Group will continue as a strategic partner retaining 30% shareholding and have their nominees on the Board of the Company.
The acquisition by Bharti Airtel would be partly by purchase of existing shares held in Warid Telecom International Limited by Dhabi Group for a nominal consideration and balance by way of issue of fresh shares at par. The new funding will be utilised for expansion of the network, both for coverage and capacity, and introduction of innovative products and services. As a result of this additional investment, the overall investment in the company will be in the region of USD 1 billion.
On the occasion Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharti Airtel, said “This landmark deal underlines our intent to further expand our operations to international markets where we can implant our unique business model and offer quality and affordable telecom services. At the same time, it is a symbol of the growing economic cooperation between the South Asian countries and we would like to thank the Government of India and Bangladesh for their support and encouragement.”
“Bangladesh, with a population of over 160 million and teledensity of 32% is a very promising market for telecom services. Bharti is keen to work in Bangladesh and contribute to achieving the vision of Digital Bangladesh even sooner than 2021. It will be our endeavour to raise the bar in the country’s mobile services market and bring best in class service, quality network and innovative products in the area of mobile commerce, health, education, agriculture, m-entertainment to customers. In particular, we look to leverage our rich experience in taking mobile telephony into rural areas and expand our services to the deepest pockets of Bangladesh and double the teledensity in few years.” he added.
Commenting on the deal, HH Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Chairman, Dhabi Group said, “We are pleased to partner Bharti Airtel and believe this partnership will bring benefits to all stakeholders, most importantly the customers of Warid Telecom. The telecom market in Bangladesh has immense growth potential and Bharti Airtel’s rich experience and product portfolio promise to redefine this market. We are confident that this partnership will help establish the company as a leading player in the Bangladesh telecom industry.”
This will be Bharti Airtel’s second operation outside of India. The company launched its mobile services in Sri Lanka in January 2009 on a state-of-the-art 3.5G network. The company crossed the 1 million customers mark within six months of launch on the back of innovative offerings as well as rapid expansion of network coverage and distribution.