Junta-Linked Company in Bid to Take Stake in Telenor Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 15 November 2021

With Norwegian telecom operator Telenor’s plan to exit Myanmar by selling its telecom operations in the country to Lebanese investment firm M1 mired in uncertainty, local firms have indicated their interest in taking a stake in Telenor Myanmar.

Amara Communications Co Ltd, a subsidiary of the IGE Group of Companies owned by U Nay Aung, a brother of Myanmar Navy chief Admiral Moe Aung, is one of them.

U Myint Ko Ko, the head of Legal and Regulatory at Amara Communications Co Ltd, spoke to The Irrawaddy about the company’s interest in Telenor Myanmar.

Can you tell us more about Amara’s interest in investing in Telenor Myanmar?

When Telenor announced its plans in July to leave Myanmar, they invited us to put in offers. At that time, they made a list of prioritized companies that had put in offers. We stayed silent after Telenor announced officially that they had chosen M1.

We are engaged in the telecom market and so we put in an offer at their request. It was not that our company was the only one to make an offer. We made the offer together with internet service providers in the market. At that time, there were some 70 local companies that had put in offers. Our company was just one of them.

With Telenor’s plan to sell its Myanmar business to M1 uncertain, is Amara still trying to acquire a stake in Telenor Myanmar?

What we know is that Telenor Myanmar sought permission in July from the Posts and Telecommunications Department (PTD) of the Ministry of Transport and Communications for its sale to M1. But the PTD has not made any decision. In fact, whether we can have a stake in Telenor Myanmar is out of our control. As the PTD has said nothing, we know nothing so far.

There might have been some discussions between them, but we don’t know. If there is an opportunity, we will be in. But the situation depends not only on the PTD, but very largely on Telenor and M1 as well.

To what extent is Amara prepared to invest if it is allowed to do so?

Even if there is an opportunity and we decide to take that opportunity, our maximum stake won’t be more than 0.2 per cent. Still, it depends on Telenor, M1 and the PTD, and our financial capacity. Because if we invest a lot in Telenor Myanmar, it could have a negative impact on our existing business.

What else can you tell us about the potential investment?

We have nothing to hide about this and we will announce publicly if we buy a stake in Telenor Myanmar. If we are allowed to take a stake and join the operation, what we can assure people is that we will provide a service that is under no influence from anyone. We won’t join the operation if it might impact the privacy of the public or if the concession is not transparent.

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