Business Roundup (March 4)

By The Irrawaddy 4 March 2017

Energy Sector Due to See Changes

Burma’s oil and gas industry could be due for a shake-up amid a rise in mergers and acquisitions in Asia’s energy sector, according to a report in

Major Western oil producers are seeking to divest assets in the region, the report says, while interest in purchasing will likely increase from Chinese and local companies.

Shell, Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil and Eni are believed to be willing to dispose of up to $40 billion in assets in Burma, Bangladesh, Malaysia, China and New Zealand, the report said.

Likely buyers are Chinese state-owned oil companies, private equity firms and local independent energy groups, according to Wood Mackenzie, a UK-based energy research company.

Chevron and Shell hold the largest portfolios of legacy assets in Asia and both signaled last year that they plan to sell holdings in Burma, Bangladesh, Thailand, New Zealand, Malaysia and China.

ExxonMobil, Total and Eni are also expected to continue to divest as they refocus their global portfolios, according to Nikkei.

Chevron is reportedly interested in divesting in Burma, where it holds a stake in the Yadana project reportedly valued at around $1.3 billion, and owns rights to the A-5 exploration block.

“Block A-5 is a good asset with plenty of buyers interested, but Chevron wants a competitive price. Otherwise they will keep it,” said Blair Miller, a Singapore-based energy trade and investment adviser with Scottish Development International.

Shell holds stakes in seven offshore exploration blocks in Burma’s potentially gas-rich waters and is also likely to divest some of its assets, said Adrian Pooh of Wood Mackenzie.

Burma remains attractive to buyers because of expanding domestic demand as well as nearby energy-export markets like China and Thailand, according to Nikkei.

Wa Region’s Tin Exports to China Down in January

China’s tin ore and concentrate imports from Burma fell 57 percent in January from the same month in the previous year, mainly due to an earlier-than-usual Chinese Spring Festival holiday period, when mining firms took a break from work.

China’s refined tin ore imports also fell by 34 percent over the same period.

Burma was the source of over 99 percent of China’s tin ore and concentrate imports in January, which totaled 31,651 tonnes.

The amount of high-grade ore in the exports from mines in the Wa special region was reportedly sparse, according to a report in

The website predicted that tin-related exports would increase in February but that an underlying decline in mine production in the Wa special region would put pressure on Chinese tin ore imports during 2017.

Long-stalled Dawei SEZ Gets New Committee

Burma has formed a high-level committee and a task force to restart the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which has stalled for years, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.

The committee, chaired by Vice President U Henry Van Thio, was formed on February 28 and aims to re-start the joint project, which includes a highway and deep-sea port. The task force is chaired by the Minister for Commerce, according to the state paper.

Burma has had interactions over the plan in recent months with the Italian-Thai Development (ITD) Company, the newspaper reported. ITD is one of a group of firms in a consortium of Thai private developers that signed a concession agreement for the SEZ with the government in 2015. The others are Japanese-Thai joint venture Rojana Industrial Park, and LNG Plus International from Thailand.

Burma and Thailand first signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the area in 2008. The project stalled after ITD ran into financial difficulties and as investors lost confidence in the project, which has been the subject of vocal local opposition.

Inle Lake Resort Gets Sustainability Certificate

The Villa Inle hotel has been awarded a Gold Certification from international rating system Travelife, according to a travel website.

The award system measures environmental and other criteria such as energy efficiency, waste and water, social policies for employee welfare, collaboration with local communities, and protection of local traditions and wildlife.

“Inle Lake is an extremely fragile eco-system in dire need of protection. Our hotel, which is fully dependent on the lake, decided to become a Travelife member to develop our sustainability policy with a systematic approach. We are delighted to be the first ever hotel in Myanmar to achieve this certification,” said general manager Aung Ko Ko.

“With our continued commitment, we will work to spread our message to other hoteliers in order to sustain and protect this fragile ecosystem,” he said.

Villa Inle is also a two-time recipient of a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. The resort has 27 villas on the eastern shore of Inle Lake.

MPT Acquires Gemalto Services

The MPT telecoms company has acquired device management technology from global digital security firm Gemalto in order to increase its ability to analyze customer and handset data and deliver services to customers.

MPT launched a 4G network in 2016, and is working to further develop 4G services through an advanced statistics feature and through improved targeting of services, according to a trade website.

“We can now truly understand our subscribers, develop personalized services to meet their changing needs, and boost business opportunities,” said Koichi Kawase, Chief Commercial Officer of MPT-KSGM Joint Operations.

“This collaboration, built upon industry-proven technologies and global expertise, will enable us to achieve further convenience and a prime mobile experience for customers in Myanmar,” he added.

Sashidhar Thothadri of Gemalto said, “Leveraging our suite of solutions, MPT will be able to gain a strategic advantage in understanding subscribers’ behavior while subscribers will get to experience first-class connectivity.”