Robi and Airtel have formally applied for permission to merge their operations from the telecom regulator, a move that will turn the combined entity into the second largest mobile operator after Grameenphone in Bangladesh.
“We received a joint application. The approval process will start in a short while,” said Md Sarwar Alam, spokesman for Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
The merger will also require the government approval, on top of the regulator's recommendation, to go through, he added.
Both the operators plan to start the integration process next week, with the view to completing the merger by January next year, according to senior executives of Robi and Airtel.
Robi will have a 75 percent stake in the merged entity and Airtel 25 percent, according to the joint application signed by Supun Weerasinghe, chief executive officer of Robi, and PD Sarma, managing director of Airtel Bangladesh, to the telecom regulator.
Of Robi's 75 percent stake, 70 percent will be owned by Axiata Group, Robi's Malaysia-based parent company, and 5 percent by Japan's NTT DOCOMO.
At present, Axiata Group's share in Robi is 91.59 percent and NTT DOCOMO's 8.41 percent.
The merged entity will be registered as Robi Axiata Ltd and it will operate under the brand name of Robi, according to BTRC officials.
As per the joint application, Robi and Airtel's spectrum will be allocated to the merged entity.