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Robi set to transfer 20pc stake to edotco at $120m

Siddique Islam | September 17, 2018 00:00:00

Mobile operator Robi is set to offload its 20 per cent stake valued at US$120 million to edotco Bangladesh, a Malaysia-based telecommunications infrastructure services company.

Bangladesh's second largest mobile phone operator has taken the latest initiative to facilitate edotco Bangladesh Co. Ltd. (edotco BD) for complying with the rules to be eligible for the license of tower company which will operate mobile towers across the country.

"The fund has already been deposited with Robi's account from Axiata Group Malaysia through a foreign commercial bank," a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE.

The fund is treated as foreign direct investment (FDI) that has helped increase the inflow of foreign exchange in the local market, the central banker explained.

Malaysia-based edotco Group holds 80 per cent shares of edotco BD while Robi, which is also a subsidiary of Axiata Group, holds rest of 20 per cent shares.

Sources at both banking and telecom sectors said edotco is now working with local business group Getco to form a partnership as part of taking preparation for applying to the telecom regulator for the mobile tower company license.

Under the moves, Greencon Tower Company Limited, a subsidiary of Getco will acquire 30 per cent stake of edotco BD to provide next-generation infrastructure to meet Bangladesh's growing connectivity needs.

As per the guidelines of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), an entity with interest in taking mobile tower sharing license must be a joint venture company with a Bangladeshi partner, while the foreign partner/partners will have to limit their shareholding in the entity within 70 per cent.

The BTRC has already selected four companies including edotco BD from eight applicants for mobile phone tower sharing company licenses.

Other companies are TASC Summit Towers Ltd, Kirtonkhola Tower Bangladesh Ltd and AB High-tech Consortium.

The edotco Bangladesh is now taking preparations to apply to the BRTC with all relevant documents by October for receiving the license, a telecom sector source told the FE.

License acquisition fee and annual fee have already been set at Tk 250 million and Tk 50 million respectively.

Besides, licensees will have to share 5.5 per cent of their revenue with the government and another 1.0 per cent with the social obligation fund from the second year of getting licenses.

Each licensee will also have to provide performance bank guarantee worth Tk 200 million to the BTRC.

The telecom regulator is empowered to encash up to 50 per cent of the performance bank guarantee, phase by phase, for the licensee's failure in fulfilling the rollout obligations.

The tenure of the license would be 15 years initially that would be extended gradually by five years.

The edotco operates and manages a regional portfolio of over 27,000 towers across core markets of Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan with 16,391 towers directly operated by edotco and a further 10,821 towers managed through a range of services provided.

Established in 2012, edotco is the first regional and integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company in Asia, providing end-to-end solutions in the tower services sector from tower leasing, co-locations, build-to-suit, energy, transmission and operations and maintenance.

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