India’s Bharti acquires control of Bangladesh telecom firm

MUMBAI, January 12, 2010 (AFP) – India’s biggest mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel on Tuesday announced it will acquire a 70 percent stake in Bangladesh-based Warid Telecom, signalling the company’s strong global ambitions. The move into Bangladesh by Bharti comes after its plan to ally with South Africa’s MTN to create an emerging market telecom giant collapsed in September.

Bharti shares on Tuesday rose as much as 1.8 percent to a day’s high of 334.9, before retracing on profit-taking to 329.25, or 0.09 percent higher, in early afternoon trade. Bharti would take management and board control of Warid, a statement to the Mumbai stock exchange said.

“The landmark deal underlines our intent to further expand our operations to international markets,” Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti, said in the statement.

Bharti said its fresh investment of 300 million dollars — raising its total investment to one billion dollars — would be used for network expansion and introducing new services.

Last week, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission cleared the deal for Bharti to buy the stake in Warid, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhaibi-based Dhabi Group.

Launched in 2007, Warid is Bangladesh’s