Robi Axiata Limited has signed a $99 million financing agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to expand its telecom network and build new telecommunication infrastructure networks.
Supun Weerasinghe, managing director and CEO of Robi, and M Rehan Rashid, IFC’s senior country officer, signed the agreement on behalf of their organisations at Hotel Amari in the capital yesterday.
The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will provide the loan at an interest rate of around 2% while Robi’s parent company Axiata will be the guarantor for the loan.
The $99 million long-term loan facility will help Robi to improve public access to affordable and reliable telecommunication services by increasing its capacity and extending coverage, especially in rural and underserved areas. A significant portion of the debt financing will be channeled towards augmenting coverage and capacity in Robi’s 3.5G mobile network.
Industry insiders think this agreement indicates the growing stature of Robi in Bangladesh and also attests the telecom service provider’s strong corporate governance framework premised on uncompromising integrity. The loan also enables Robi to have the optimum capital structure comprising local and foreign loans in addition to shareholders’ contribution.
Commenting on the agreement Robi CEO Supun Weerasinghe said: “Robi is indeed grateful to IFC for their confidence in our business. We believe that it also reflects the confidence of the international community, such as World Bank, on the future of Bangladesh.
“Robi, as a leading mobile operator underpinned by Axiata vision of advancing Asia, always invests responsibly in our network to deliver best value experience for our subscribers. This partnership with IFC is a further endorsement of this vision and our commitment towards corporate governance and corporate responsibility.”
Speaking at the deal-signing ceremony, IFC’s Senior Country Officer M Rehan Rashid said: “Robi clearly stands out in the mobile telecom industry as an operator upholding the principles of a responsible corporate entity. We find the operator honouring its commitment unfailingly towards sustainable growth of the economy while undertaking customer centric market initiatives.
“IFC is particularly impressed with the robust corporate governance framework the company has put in place to sustain its business and is very happy to form a partnership with Robi.”
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood, Vice-Chairman Ahsan Habib Khan, Robi Chief Financial Officer Yap Wai Yip, Chief Corporate and People Officer Matiul Islam Nowshad, Chief Technology Officer AKM Morshed, and other high officials of the two organisations attended the signing ceremony.