A syndicate of development and commercial banks has lent US$345mn to Bangladeshi telecoms operator Grameenphone.

The package was arranged by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and has been funded by Standard Chartered as well as the development financial institutions (DFIs) Proparco, DEG, FMO, CDC and Ofid.

The IFC retained a US$150mn ticket in the transaction, which is one of the largest private sector financings in Bangladesh’s history.

Currently, only 0.7% of Bangladesh’s fast-growing population is connected to a landline. Mobile phones are imperative for efficient communication and essential for the development of the country’s trade economy.

Grameenphone will use the finance to expand and modernise its network, giving people and businesses around Bangladesh better connectivity.

Jeremy Burke, the investment director of the CDC, the UK’s DFI which contributed US$25mn to the facility, tells GTR that he expects the finance to have a big knock-on effect on the Bangladesh economy.

He continues: “Telecoms are fundamental and can be transformative in developing countries. Grameenphone has focused heavily on growing the network out to rural Bangladesh, which will have a knock-on effect on trade. The more basic infrastructure you have of any kind allows more economic activity to take place and more people to participate in economic activity.”

“We see this as one component of fund infrastructure which needs supporting. This is definitely going to contribute to normal trade within and in and out of Bangladesh, which is what we’re here to support.”