Myanmar’s Last Foreign Telecom, Ooredoo, to Leave Country

By The Irrawaddy 20 July 2022

Myanmar’s last foreign telecoms operator, Ooredoo, will leave the country, as the Qatari firm is planning to sell its Myanmar unit, according to Reuters.

Citing two sources familiar with the case, the news agency reported on Wednesday that Doha-based Ooredoo is now in talks on the sale after informing Myanmar’s Posts and Telecommunications Department (PTD), the country’s regulator, of its intention to sell the unit.

Ooredoo, Myanmar’s third-biggest operator, had nearly 15 million users in 2020.

The announcement follows the withdrawal from the country in March of Norway’s Telenor, which sold its Myanmar unit to junta-affiliated firm Shwe Byain Phyu, with a minority stake purchased by Lebanese investment firm M1. The local unit’s name has since been changed to ATOM.

The Norwegian firm said it sold the Myanmar company to avoid European Union sanctions after “continued pressure” from the military junta to activate intercept surveillance technology.

Myanmar has been under military rule since a coup last year that has sparked social and political turmoil in the Southeast Asian country. The country’s telecom sector has been under pressure from the regime, in particular to track the data of those involved in anti-regime resistance activities. Mobile services remain shut down in some parts of the country where the resistance movement is active.

The reason behind Ooredoo’s withdrawal is not yet known. Reuters said the main potential buyers for the company include Myanmar conglomerate Young Investment Group, Singapore-headquartered network infrastructure operator Campana Group, and SkyNet, a broadcast company owned by Myanmar group Shwe Than Lwin.

Other telecom service providers in the country are MPT, a large state-backed operator run as a joint venture with a Japanese company, and Mytel, a venture between the Myanmar military and Viettel, owned by Vietnam’s Defense Ministry.