GrameenPhone, the primary case study in You Can Hear Me Now, is preparing to sell $300 million worth of shares on the Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges in Bangladesh. The company, a subsidiary of Norway’s Telenor, is valued at $3.2 billion. Get more details from The Daily Star, Dhaka’s premier English-language daily.
The IPO, although very small by Western standards, is a significant step forward for Bangladesh’s capital markets, which have been strengthening over the part five years. “It will be a breakthrough for the country’s capital market history,” said Abu Ahmed, professor of the Department of Economics of Dhaka University. The IPO is planned for the end of September.
The fact that GrameenPhone, which is owned by Telenor, a publicly traded company in Norway, is offering shares in Bangladesh is significant because it gives Bangladeshis a chance to buy into one of the country’s strongest corporate performers. This has long been a bone of contention between Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel laureate and founder of Grameen Bank, which owns 38% of GrameenPhone, and Telenor, which owns 62%. At his Nobel acceptance in Oslo, Yunus made several “in your face” comments about Telenor. Yunus now asserts that the owners of Grameen Bank are entitled to buy 20% of the shares being offered and that they have the capital to do so.
This silly jousting aside, the IPO may well propel other telecoms to list in Bangladesh, including Egypt’s hyper-successful Orascom, which operates Banglalink.