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Qatar’s Ooredoo plans to sell Myanmar unit to Singapore firm

The Ooredoo board will recommend a cash dividend of QAR0.55 per share at the annual general meeting in March Creative Commons
The Ooredoo board will recommend a cash dividend of QAR0.55 per share at the annual general meeting in March

Qatari telecommunications company Ooredoo plans to sell its Myanmar operations to Singapore-headquartered technology firm The One Matrix Ventures (TOMV), according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Ooredoo is the last majority foreign-owned telecoms company in Myanmar since a rush to exit after last year’s military coup. Norway’s Telenor withdrew from the country in March this year in a departure mired in difficulty.

The sources said that TOMV is in talks with several potential partners in Myanmar to join the deal to help secure regulatory approval, without providing further details.

TOMV, which is focused on telecoms infrastructure and technology, was founded and is headed by Myanmar businessman Myo Myint Ohn, who has also led Singapore telecommunications firm Campana Group.

One of the sources said that Doha-based Ooredoo had informed Myanmar’s Posts and Telecommunications Department (PTD), the country’s regulator, of its intention to sell its operations to Myo Myint Ohn but not yet asked for official approval.

The deal is dependent on receiving regulatory approval, the people with knowledge of the matter said.

The people, who declined to be named due to confidentiality constraints, did not put a value on the size of the potential sale.

Reuters reported in July, citing sources, that Ooredoo had entered talks to sell is Myanmar operations.

Ooredoo did not respond to a request for comment.

TOMV executive director Alan Sinfield told Reuters he was not in a position to comment.

Moe Kyaw Soe, deputy permanent secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications and a spokesperson for PTD, said he had no information on the issue.

‘Increased Pressure’

The telecoms sector in Myanmar has faced increased pressure since the military seized power in 2021, after previously having been one of Asia’s fastest-growing markets. Mobile data remains shut down in part of the country, after nationwide restrictions on the internet throughout 2021.

Regulators blocked in 2021 a deal for Telenor to sell its Myanmar operations to Lebanese investment firm M1 Group, until Myanmar firm Shwe Byain Phyu was brought in as a majority owner.

Telenor told Reuters in 2021 it had to sell its operations to avoid European Union sanctions after “continued pressure” from the junta to activate intercept surveillance technology.

Reuters reported in July 2021 that a confidential PTD order had been issued banning senior foreign telecoms executives from leaving the country without permission. The travel ban was followed by a second order instructing telecoms firms to fully activate the intercept.

Other telecoms service providers in the country are MPT, a large state-backed operator, with Japan’s KDDI and Sumitomo Corporation as investors, and Mytel, a venture between Myanmar’s army and Viettel, owned by Vietnam’s defence ministry.