New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Ltd may acquire 70% of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom Pvt. Ltd, the nation’s fourth largest wireless operator, the ‘Daily Star’ reported, citing the country’s telecommunications regulator.
The Indian company applied for regulatory permission to buy the stake from closely held Warid’s parent Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment (ADUG), the newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing Zia Ahmed, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
The deal may be worth about $900 million, according to the report.
Looking east: Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Mittal. Bharti’s deal with Warid Telecom may be worth $900 million, according to reports. Rajkumar / Mint
Bharti is looking for opportunities in emerging markets, Manoj Kohli, chief executive and joint managing director of Bharti Airtel, had said last month, after the Delhi-based firm called off talks for a proposed $23 billion merger with South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. An acquisition may help India’s largest mobile phone operator gain customers in a wireless market set to double by 2015, according to BTRC.
“We have been interested in Bangladesh and South Asian markets,” Akhil Gupta, deputy chief executive officer of parent Bharti Enterprises Ltd, said on Wednesday. “We are always looking for opportunities,” he added, without elaborating.
Calls to Ahmed’s office in Dhaka weren’t answered and an e-mail didn’t receive an immediate reply.
The deal looks expensive given that per subscriber costs are high, said Kunal Bajaj, MD with strategy consulting firm BDA Connect. Revenue per user levels at less than Rs200 in that market do not warrant such a high valuation, he said
Airtel stock added 2.83% to Rs325.75 at the end of trading on Wednesday.
Warid had 2.79 million subscribers as of October, according to the report.
(Shauvik Ghosh contributed to this story.)