A quarter after its Airtel Bangladesh business broke even at an EBITDA level, Bharti Airtel has announced that it will acquire the remaining 30% stake in the venture from Warid Telecom. Airtel had entered the Bangladesh market in January 2010 with the acquisition of a majority 70% stake in the company from Warid. This is also the second acquisition of stake from Warid announced in recent times – Airtel had acquired Warid Uganda a week and a half ago, increasing its customer base in Uganda by 2.8 million to 7.4 million customers.
We’re not very sure of how many customers Airtel has in Bangladesh. Airtel’s quarterly report for last quarter says that the company had 5.8 million customers in Bangladesh (at the end of December 2012), with mobile services across 64 districts of Bangladesh with a distribution network comprising of around 89,000 retailers across the country. However, the website of the Bangladesh telecom regulator states that Airtel’s customer base was 7.472 million, at the end of March 2013. Given the slow rate of growth of subscribers in Bangladesh, we’re not sure how Airtel might have ended up adding over 1.5 million subscribers in the quarter, especially since it apparently took a year and a half for the company to grow from 5 million subscribers to 5.8 million.
In any case, the numbers on the Bangladesh Telecom regulators website states that the country had 99.871 million active subscribers at the end of March 2013, thus giving Airtel a marketshare of around 7.4%. Grameen Phone leads the pack with 41.792 million active subscribers. Banglalink at 25.921, Robi Axiata at 21.403, and Airtel at a distant number four.
Airtel doesn’t disclose revenues for Bangladesh separately: its financial disclosures look at two two major segments – “India & South Asia”, which includes Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and Africa, which has 17 countries.