Mobile operator Robi today said they need 12 months for completion of the merger with Airtel to become the second largest mobile operator in the country.
Robi’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Supun Weerasinghe said at a press conference in Dhaka that they are expecting to get the official approval within the next three months.
“Twelve more months will be required to complete the whole process,” Weerasinghe said, adding that the merger will bring convenience to their customers which will also benefit their shareholders as well in terms of profitability.
Meanwhile, the High Court today asked the government to explain in four weeks as to why it should not be directed to assess the market impact of proposed merger of mobile phone operators Robi and Airtel by constituting a competition commission.
The court came up with the rule following a writ petition filed claiming that 96 percent of mobile phone market share will go to three operators - Robi, Grameenphone and Bangla Link, if Robi and Airtel are allowed to get merged.
Therefore, new entry of mobile phone operator into the market will be discouraged and consumers will be deprived of better marketing offer from the competing firms, the petition said.
Nazmus Sakib Al Azam, a subscriber of Airtel, filed the petition as public interest litigation with the HC today saying that the government is under obligation to constitute a competition commission by appointing a chairman and at lest four members as per Section 7 of the Competition Act 2012.
But, so far the authorities concerned of the government have hopelessly failed to find an appropriate competent person to appoint as the chairman of the commission to make the commission functional even after expiry of three years of its establishment, the petitioner said.
The petitioner prayed to the HC to direct the authorities concerned of the government to assess the market impact of proposed merger of Robi and Airtel by constituting a competition commission.
After holding hearing the petition today, the HC bench of Justice Tariq Ul Hakim and Justice Farid Ahmed Shibli issued the rule.
Secretaries to the cabinet division, commerce ministry, Bangladesh Competition Commission, and post and telecommunication ministry, secretaries, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and chief executive officers of Robi Axiata and Airtel Bangladesh Limited have been made respondents to the rule, petitioner’s counsel Yousuf Ali told The Daily Star.
The merger of Robi and Airtel on September 30 got closer to fruition after the telecom regulator gave it the green light.
The merger, which will make the combined entity the second largest mobile operator in Bangladesh, is now awaiting the final approval from the government.
It will also require the go-ahead from court about share transfer, according to a report published on The Daily Star on October 1.