Myanmar junta finally approves sale of Telenor’s local business

A Telenor shop in Yangon, Myanmar. Picture: EPA

Myanmar’s junta through the Myanmar Investment Commission has given the final approval for the sale of Telenor’s operations in the country to a local company and a Lebanese investment firm, the Norwegian telecommunications company said on March 18.

Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke said in a statement the firm had to leave the country to “adhere to our own values on human rights and responsible business, and because local laws in Myanmar conflict with European laws.”

Telenor will transfer its operations to Lebanese company M1 Group, which, according to the requirements set by the investment commission, will have to enter a joint venture with local company Shwe Byain Phyu Group in which the latter will hold 80 per cent. The deal is expected to be settled by March 20.

Shwe Byain Phyu already acquired 49 per cent of Investcom, a Singapore-based company set up for the purchase of Telenor  Myanmar. After the deal closes, M1 Group will sell 31 per cent of Investcom shares to Shwe Byain Phyu.

Shwe Byain Phyu is a group of companies founded by Thein Win Zaw, a Myanmar businessman with long-standing ties to the military. The conglomerate has interests in petrol stations, jade mining, timber and food exports and closely cooperates with junta-run Myanma Economic Holdings.

Difficult negotiations over Telenor’s exit

Telenor sought to leave Myanmar after last year’s military coup but its departure faced a number of hurdles. Senior foreign Telenor executives were even barred from leaving Myanmar while negotiations over the sale were ongoing.

Telenor said the exit from Myanmar was inevitable to avoid European Union sanctions after “continued pressure” from the junta to activate intercept surveillance technology.

Civil rights groups said the deal could now put the data of 18 million people within the junta’s reach and called on Telenor to delete personal information of customers. However, Telenor said doing so would violate local laws and expose employees to danger.



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[caption id="attachment_38313" align="alignleft" width="300"] A Telenor shop in Yangon, Myanmar. Picture: EPA[/caption] Myanmar's junta through the Myanmar Investment Commission has given the final approval for the sale of Telenor’s operations in the country to a local company and a Lebanese investment firm, the Norwegian telecommunications company said on March 18. Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke said in a statement the firm had to leave the country to “adhere to our own values on human rights and responsible business, and because local laws in Myanmar conflict with European laws.” Telenor will transfer its operations to Lebanese company M1 Group, which, according to...

A Telenor shop in Yangon, Myanmar. Picture: EPA

Myanmar’s junta through the Myanmar Investment Commission has given the final approval for the sale of Telenor’s operations in the country to a local company and a Lebanese investment firm, the Norwegian telecommunications company said on March 18.

Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke said in a statement the firm had to leave the country to “adhere to our own values on human rights and responsible business, and because local laws in Myanmar conflict with European laws.”

Telenor will transfer its operations to Lebanese company M1 Group, which, according to the requirements set by the investment commission, will have to enter a joint venture with local company Shwe Byain Phyu Group in which the latter will hold 80 per cent. The deal is expected to be settled by March 20.

Shwe Byain Phyu already acquired 49 per cent of Investcom, a Singapore-based company set up for the purchase of Telenor  Myanmar. After the deal closes, M1 Group will sell 31 per cent of Investcom shares to Shwe Byain Phyu.

Shwe Byain Phyu is a group of companies founded by Thein Win Zaw, a Myanmar businessman with long-standing ties to the military. The conglomerate has interests in petrol stations, jade mining, timber and food exports and closely cooperates with junta-run Myanma Economic Holdings.

Difficult negotiations over Telenor’s exit

Telenor sought to leave Myanmar after last year’s military coup but its departure faced a number of hurdles. Senior foreign Telenor executives were even barred from leaving Myanmar while negotiations over the sale were ongoing.

Telenor said the exit from Myanmar was inevitable to avoid European Union sanctions after “continued pressure” from the junta to activate intercept surveillance technology.

Civil rights groups said the deal could now put the data of 18 million people within the junta’s reach and called on Telenor to delete personal information of customers. However, Telenor said doing so would violate local laws and expose employees to danger.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

 

 

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