Robi, IFC sign $99m loan deal

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Robi is borrowing $99 million from the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector arm, to expand its 3G network in Bangladesh.

The funds will give Robi a competitive edge over other operators, said Supun Weerasinghe, managing director of Robi, after signing a loan agreement with IFC yesterday.

The loan repayment period is seven years with a two-year grace period, said Yap Wai Yip, chief financial officer of Robi, without disclosing the interest rate on the credit.

But a Robi official preferring anonymity said the interest rate has been fixed at LIBOR plus 2 percent and other service charges.

Between January 2014 and September 2015, Robi, the third largest carrier by subscribers, invested $500 million, which is the highest among all the operators in Bangladesh’s telecom sector.

Weerasinghe said the company has long-term plans for Bangladesh, and the loan will help encourage international players to invest in the country, especially the telecom sector.

At the programme, Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, said the telecom regulator is emphasising quality service across the country.

The deal will surely give a boost to the telecom regulator’s efforts to make digital services available in all corners of Bangladesh, he said.

Earlier in 2013, market leader Grameenphone had also borrowed $345 million from the IFC.

Robi currently has about 2.83 crore active connections, giving it a market share of 21.43 percent, according to the telecom regulator.

The operator runs 3,800 third-generation sites and 8,000 sites for 2G coverage, Weerasinghe said. Robi plans to add another 1,500 3G sites and 3,000 2G sites to its network by 2016 with the investment.

Source: The Daily Star

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