The world’s fastest growing telecom market, India is getting too hot and competitive for the biggest player Bharti Airtel to handle. After its aborted attempt to buy South Africa’s MTN which fell through due to regulatory issues, Bharti is now looking in the neighbourhood for an acquisition.
In a shift of strategy, Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest telecom operator, is close to acquiring a 70% stake in Bangladesh’s fourth largest mobile operator, Warid Telecom, for close to $900 million.
The deal, likely to be sealed mid-January, comes three months after Bharti failed to secure a deal with South Africa’s MTN to become the world’s fourth largest mobile firm by subscribers.
Post-deal, management control of Warid Telecom would pass on to Bharti and Bangladeshi media reports say Bharti has submitted an investment plan of $300 million.
Bharti’s costly acquisition plan is an indication of how the stakes have risen in the telecom sector in the sub-continent; the offer is almost three times the $350 million DoCoMo paid in 2008 to buy a 30% stake in Aktel or TM International, the third ranked operator in Bangladesh.
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