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Airtel and Axiata in merger talks for Bangladesh

Two major operators in Bangladesh are considering merging their units in the region to take on the market leader, Grameenphone.

Both parties have confirmed that discussions are underway, but a deal has not yet been tabled. A merger between the local units of India’s Bharti Airtel and Malaysia’s Axiata – branded respectively as Airtel Bangladesh and Robi - would result in the second biggest operator in Bangladesh.

Despite this, the combined entity would still only have a market share of 28%, putting it firmly behind Grameenphone which has a 42% share. It would however inch ahead of Banglalink, which currently holds second place with a 25% market share.

Currently, Airtel holds fourth place with under 7% of the market. There are a further four operators which collectively hold under 5%.

Axiata would take management control of the combined entity, holding a majority interest while Airtel would take a minority stake. Bharti was previously considering divesting its operations in Bangladesh after its South Asia revenues dropped by 11% in Q2. Robi meanwhile has seen its revenue grow 17% in the first half.

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