Qatari telecommunications company Ooredoo is discussing the sale of its company in Myanmar, which indicates that the last foreign operator is leaving the country.
Doha-based Ooredoo reportedly notified the Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications Department (PTD), the country’s regulator, of its plans to sell the division, which was Myanmar’s third-largest operator with nearly 15 million users in 2020, before the industry was disrupted due to the military coup in February 2021.
Potential buyers for the company include Myanmar-based conglomerate Young Investment Group and SkyNet, a telecommunications company owned by Myanmar-based Shwe Than Lwin.
Negotiations with the three companies have not yet reached the final stage.
It is not yet possible to determine how much Ooredoo has invested in Myanmar, but according to its revenue, Ooredoo had 9 million customers in 2022, compared to 15 million in 2020, which generated about $330 million in revenue.
The telecommunications sector in Myanmar has been in trouble since the military took over in 2021, even though it was one of Asia’s fastest-growing markets. Mobile data is still off in part of the country following nationwide Internet restrictions throughout 2021.
Earlier, Myanmar’s central bank ordered local companies and banks to suspend and reschedule foreign loans.
Ooredoo is the latest majority-owned foreign-owned telecommunications company in Myanmar after Norway’s Telenor pulled out of the country in March this year.
Telenor’s country arm is now owned by Myanmar-based Shwe Byain Phyu, with a minority stake acquired by Lebanese investment firm M1.
Other telecommunications providers in the country are the state-backed operator MPT and Mytel, a venture between the Myanmar Army and Viettel, owned by the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense.
Telenor had to sell its operations to avoid European Union sanctions after continued pressure from the junta to activate surveillance interception technology.
In July 2021, a confidential PTD order was issued prohibiting senior executives of foreign telecommunications companies from leaving the country without permission. This was followed by an order instructing the telecommunications firms to fully activate the interception.
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