Foreign investors to get more holdings in NTTN operators

HM Murtuza | Published: 20:54, Dec 27,2019


A file photo shows a signboard of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission installed outside its office in Dhaka. The BTRC has revised the nationwide telecommunication transmission network guidelines, raising the foreigners’ shareholding limit in any NTTN operator. — New Age photo

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has revised the nationwide telecommunication transmission network guidelines, raising the foreigners’ shareholding limit in any NTTN operator.

The telecom regulator made the decision at a recent commission meeting with its chairman Md Jahurul Haque in the chair, a senior BTRC official told New Age.

As per the revision to the guidelines, the foreign investors would be allowed to hold highest 70 per cent stake in any NTTN operator.

Previously, foreigners were allowed to hold highest 60 per cent shares in such entities.

The BTRC official said that the initiative to raise the foreigners’ shareholding limit was made following a proposal put forward by Summit Communications Limited.

Due to capital intensive nature of NTTN business, Summit Communications might be planning to expand its optical fibre network with overseas investments that prompted the operator to request for the revision to the guidelines, the official said.

Although the change has been made based on a Summit Communications’ plea, all other NTTN operators would be entitled to entertain 70 per cent foreign investment once the change is approved by the ministry.

In October this year, Summit Communications proposed that the telecom regulator allow 70 per cent foreign shareholding in any NTTN operator.

It also proposed raising the limit for the interconnection exchange (ICX) and international internet gateway (IIG) as well.

In line with the proposals, the BTRC had proposed that the telecom ministry increase the foreigners’ shareholding limit to 70 per cent in any NTTN, IIG and ICX operator.

The ministry, however, allowed the telecom regulator to increase the limit on foreign shareholding in NTTN operators only.

The BTRC official told New Age last week that the commission’s proposal for the revision to the NTTN guidelines would now be sent to the posts and telecommunications ministry for the final approval.

As per the licensing guidelines, foreign shareholders are supposed to invest in foreign currency directly equal to their ownership.

However, such investors are not allowed to make any investments with bank loans from any local bank.

Including Summit, the government have so far issued six NTTN licences. Bahon, an entity associated with Ispahani Group, was the last one to get the licence.

Of the NTTN operators, [email protected] Limited and Summit Communications are the most vibrant operators. The rest of the operators are Bangladesh Railway, Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited and Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited.

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