Burma’s Fourth Telecoms Operator to Be Revealed This Month: Official

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 1 February 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s fourth telecoms operator will finally be revealed in February, a ministry official told The Irrawaddy on Monday, after months of delays following a hotly contested bid for the final permit.

“We will choose the foreign partner from seven applicants. I can say now that we’re finalizing the process and will issue the license this month,” said Chit Wai, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Burma’s fourth telecoms operator will run as a joint venture between a foreign service provider and a domestic public company formed from 11 firms. Prospective local companies had to possess at least 3 billion kyats (US$2.3 million) or have enough capital reserves to create a new public telecoms company. According to the latest announcement from the communications ministry, seven foreign firms have shown interest in the partnership.

The government established a Joint Venture Formation and Tender Selection Work Committee to promote an open, transparent process of awarding the fourth license. At least 51 percent of the venture is to be owned by the local firm, with the remaining share going to the foreign firm.

“We’ve already discussed with our consultant team [Roland Berger] that this fourth operator will be a JV [joint venture], but I can’t say precisely how the capital will be divided,” Chit Wai said.

Lwin Naing Oo, managing director of local telecoms provider Shwe Pyi Ta Kon, said that each local firm has put some $2.3 million in capital toward the venture, in line with regulations.

Two foreign operators, Norway’s Telenor and Qatari Ooredoo, hold operating licenses, putting them in competition with state-owned Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT). MPT monopolized Burma’s telecoms industry until August 2014, when foreign companies were first allowed to enter the telecommunications market.