Burma

Parent of Telenor Myanmar ‘Weighing Options’ Amid Reports It Plans to Sell

By The Irrawaddy 2 July 2021

The Norwegian parent company of telecoms operator Telenor Myanmar said Friday it was continuing to weigh its options in the country, a day after an industry publication reported the firm was planning to sell its local unit and had hired global banking giant Citi to handle the divestment.

Telenor launched its operation in Myanmar in 2014. As of 2020, it had 16.243 million subscribers and was one of the biggest foreign investors in the country.

 

In a statement issued Friday, the Norwegian company said, “Telenor Group is in the process of evaluating various options with regards to its presence in [Myanmar]. The evaluations are ongoing, and Telenor Group will not make any further comments.”

Industry publication TMT Finance reported on Thursday that Chinese buyers had been invited to bid on Telenor Myanmar, and that Ooredoo of Qatar, which already operates in Myanmar, had also expressed interest.

Telenor has been dealt a serious blow by the Feb. 1 coup, in which the Myanmar military seized power from the country’s elected government and jailed its leaders. Since then it has been forced to deal with internet restrictions imposed by the junta, as well as the human rights implications of continuing to do business in the country. In May, Telenor Group was forced to write off the value of its operations in Myanmar, recording a US$780-million impairment charge.

In yesterday’s statement, Telenor did not respond directly to the reports of its planned sale of the Myanmar unit, and simply repeated its reasons for May’s write-off, which it said were “due to the worsening economic and business environment outlook and a deteriorating security and human rights situation, with limited prospects of improvement.”

It reiterated that its “future presence would depend on the developments in the country and the ability to contribute positively to the people of Myanmar.”


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