Bharti Airtel on Tuesday said it would acquire 70 per cent stake in Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dhabi Group. Under the agreement, Bharti Airtel will have management and board control of Warid Telecom and make a fresh investment of $300 million to expand its operations in Bangladesh, making it the largest investment by any Indian company in Bangladesh.
The Dhabi Group will continue as a strategic partner, retaining 30 per cent shareholding and have its nominees on the company’s board.
According to Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal, “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.”
With 16-crore people and tele-density of 32 per cent, Bangladesh was a promising market for telecom services. Bharti was keen to work in Bangladesh and contribute to achieving the vision of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ even sooner than 2021. It would 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, he added. Commenting on the deal, Dhabi Group Chairman Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan said: “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.” Warid Telecom offers mobile services across all the 64 districts of Bangladesh and has a total customer base of over 2.9 million. The acquisition of Warid Telecom will be Bharti Airtel’s second operation outside of India. The company launched its mobile services in Sri Lanka in January last year on a state-of-the-art 3.5G network. Interestingly, this is Bharti’s first international buyout since its failed multi-billion dollar bid for South Africa’s MTN last year.