India’s Bharti to buy Bangladesh mobile operator: regulator

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

DHAKA, December 16, 2009 (AFP) – Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel is seeking to buy Bangladesh’s fourth-largest mobile phone operator Warid from its Abu Dhabi-based owners, regulators said Wednesday. The Dhabi Group, which fully owns Warid Telecom, has sought approval from the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission for the sale of a 70 percent stake in the company, Commission chairman Zia Ahmed told AFP.

The purchase of the stake would make Bharti the latest foreign company to make inroads into the fast-growing Bangladesh mobile market.

“The Dhabi Group informed us on Sunday that it would sell 70 percent of Warid Telecom shares to Bharti Airtel Ltd. We have sought more papers and the copy of the memorandum of understanding between the two companies,” Ahmed said.

Bharti said later it was looking at potential purchases in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region, including Bangladesh, but declined comment on whether it wanted to purchase Warid.

“We have always said we are interested in the SAARC region,” Bharti Enterprises Deputy Group chief executive Akhil Gupta told reporters in New Delhi. “We have been interested in Bangladesh,” he add