GP Eyes Rural Foray As Record IPO Subscription Opens
Sunday, 04 October 2009

Grameenphone eyes expansion into rural market with the new money as subscription for its Tk 480 crore IPO opened Sunday, said the top official of the country's largest mobile-phone operator.

GP chief executive Oddvar Hesjedal told that the company's future endeavor was to better reach the rural population.

The long-awaited IPO subscription, the largest in the history of the Bangladeshi capital market, closes on Thursday for resident Bangladeshis, but it will remain open for expatriate Bangladeshis until Oct 18.

On the issue, Hesjedal said it was a milestone for the capital market.

"We would now have many Bangladeshi shareholders and would be able to share the future growth of the company with them."

Floating shares of GP would encourage other foreign companies to go public and attract more and more investors, both local and foreign, into the market, said the CEO on the IPO's impact on the capital market.

Touching on future plans, he said that they were looking forward to expand in wireless data providing service arena.

"Not only for the urban population but the rural one as well," added Hesjedal.

The company in its IPO prospectus stated that the fund raised would be mostly used for network expansion.

Asked what more expansion would happen against the backdrop of GP's wide network coverage, Hesjedal said that they hope their customer base would double over the next few years.

"So, it would be more of increasing the capacity rather than coverage."

He also revealed plans to focus more on the rural market in the coming days.

"And we have entered to the Internet age, so we would need to upgrade our infrastructure."

On a foothold into the 3G technology, the GP chief executive said that they have huge interest in the arena.

"But then again, it all depends on the regulator's decisions."

The company was cleared by the Securities and Exchange Commission to float 69,439,400 ordinary shares of Tk 10 each, with a Tk 60 premium per share, to raise Tk 486.08 from general public.

The company plans to use the issue proceeds for expanding its network, developing information technology and for other general corporate purposes.

The market lot has been fixed at 200 shares which means an investor will have to deposit Tk 14,000 as subscription fee.

Grameenphone's pre-IPO or private placement of Tk 486.07 crore has been completed in December last year.

Norway's telecom giant Telenor owns 62 percent of Grameenphone, launched in 1997, while local Grameen Telecom owns the rest.


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