By Joseph Waring
Telenor Group received regulatory approval for the sale of its mobile unit in Myanmar to Lebanon-based investment company M1 Group, with the condition the buyer lines up an ownership structure involving a local partner after the transaction closes.
The Myanmar Investment Commission approved the long-awaited sale after Telenor confirmed the agreement does not prevent M1 Group from entering a local partnership.
M1 Group’s local partner Shwe Byain Phyu 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.
Following sanctions screening, external consultants assured Telenor that Shwe Byain Phyu and its owners are not subject to any current international sanctions.
The Norway-based operator stated it is working with M1 Group to ensure a smooth transition for customers, partners and employees after the sale, which will close as soon as possible. The business will continue to operate under the brand name Telenor Myanmar for four months and have a transition service agreement with Telenor for six months.
Telenor president and CEO Sigve Brekke stated the operator had to exit Myanmar “to adhere to our own values on human rights and responsible business, and because local laws in Myanmar conflict with European laws”.
He added the security situation in the country is “extreme and deteriorating”, and Telenor believes an exit is the best of a limited number of options to “keep our employees safe”.
Telenor agreed to sell the troubled unit to M1 Group for US$105 million in mid-2021, but authorities later raised concerns, preferring a local buyer.