BTRC clears Robi-Airtel merger way

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:09, Oct 18,2016 | Updated: 21:52, Nov 16,2016

 
 
Robi Airtel

New Age file photo

Okays VRS, payment method

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Tuesday cleared the way for merger of two mobile phone operators, Robi and Airtel, by approving the voluntary retirement scheme and fee payment method.
The commission in a meeting approved that employees of Airtel, which would be merged with Robi, would get fund equivalent to four basic salary for each service year under the voluntary retirement scheme.
The High Court on August 31 approved the Robi-Airtel merger with fees and spectrum adjustment charges worth Tk 607 crore and asked the BTRC to settle the VRS issue.
Robi, which will hold 68.3 per cent controlling stake in the combined entity — Robi — after merger, will retain all of its employees.
Airtel, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel, will hold 25 per cent of the merged entity and the remaining 6.7 per cent will be held by NTT DOCOMO of Japan.
The commission meeting headed by its chairman Shahjahan Mahmood decided that the VRS fund would have to be given to the employees who want to leave the job by next 60 days.
It decided that merger fees and spectrum adjustment charges could be paid in three instalments and additional interest would be charged for the instalments.
As per the BTRC stance, Robi would have to pay Tk 607 crore in merger fees and spectrum charges if it wanted to take the current holding of 15MHz spectrum of Airtel in 2G band — 10MHz in 1800 band and 5MHz in 900 band.
If the merged entity wants to return 5MHz spectrum, as per the BTRC stance, it has to return the spectrum from 900 band.
Robi can save up to Tk 200 crore from the Tk 507 crore spectrum adjustment fees by returning the 5 MHz of 900 band.
Robi earlier wanted to return 5 MHz under any of the spectrum from its 2G spectrum.
In August, prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also in charge of the telecom ministry, approved the merger deal with condition of the fees and charges.
At present, Malayian Axiata Group’s share in Robi is 91.59 per cent and NTT DOCOMO holds the rest 8.41 per cent.
BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood said they have approved the merger conditions in line with the consent given by the High Court.
Officials said Robi and Airtel would complete the amalgamation process within a month. After the merger Robi will be the second largest operator in the country after Grameenphone. 

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