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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

GP Shareholders Promise To Put IPO Beyond Dispute

Grameenphone shareholders have committed to keeping the share-offloading issue beyond internal disputes, indicating that the process of largest-ever initial public offering (IPO) will get through.

In a joint statement, Telenor and Grameen Telecom yesterday dismissed the uncertainty over the $300 million share offloading.

Norway's Telenor owns 62 percent shares, while Grameen Telecom holds the remaining stake in Grameenphone, launched in 1996. Telenor controls the management of the country's largest cellphone company.

Both the parties had ended up in conflicts on a range of issues, which created some buzz of uncertainty over the IPO, scheduled to come through this month.

However, the capital market regulator expressed doubt over the Grameen IPO last week saying the stock market debut of Grameenphone is unlikely this year, according to a media report.

"The information GP sent to the commission is not enough. We asked for more details," Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Faruq Ahmad Siddiqi told the media last week.

Earlier in August, Grameenphone submitted its proposal to raise $300 million (around Tk 2,058 crore), of which $150 million from the stock market through IPO (initial public offering) and the rest through private placement or pre-IPO to the capital market regulator.

"We remain committed to our joint collaboration and our priority remains the continued success of Grameenphone as the benchmark corporate in Bangladesh,” said Dipal C Barua, deputy managing director of Grameen Bank and a board member of Grameenphone, and Per-Erik Hylland, senior vice president of Telenor and also a board member of GP, in the joint statement yesterday.

They also said: “Our commitment also extends to our stated objective of ensuring the seamless execution of the Grameenphone IPO by 2008 and in meaningfully contributing to the development of Bangladesh capital market and its positive profiling across the globe."

According to Grameenphone's IPO roadmap, the $3.2 billion company was scheduled to list this month.

Grameen Telecom, the minority shareholder of Grameenphone, recently expressed its dismay over some "unlawful activities" practiced by Telenor in Bangladesh.

Dr Muhammad Yunus, chairman of non-profit Grameem Telecom, had even warned legal actions against Telenor to force it to honour the deal.

Grameen Telecom also said it was not ready to pay any fine for 'illegal' activities committed by the Norwegian firm.

About Telenor's alleged involvement in illegal internet telephony services, Yunus in a statement on Friday demanded that Telenor authorises ensure transparency in the matters, making public the investigation reports.

"We can't allow the name of Grameen to be tarnished directly or indirectly by inappropriate operations," Yunus said in the statement distributed through PR Newswire.

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