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21 Jan 2022

Poppy Mcpherson & Fanny Potkin, Reuters

Myanmar junta backs Telenor unit sale after buyer M1 pairs with local firm - sources

21 January 2022

Lebanon's M1 Group will partner with a Myanmar firm to take over Norwegian telco Telenor's business in the Southeast Asian country after its military junta sought a local buyer, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.


Military leaders late last year rejected the sale solely to M1.

Instead, they privately approved a partnership between M1 Group and Myanmar's Shwe Byain Phyu Group, the three sources said. Two of the sources said Shwe Byain Phyu would be the majority shareholder. They declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Shwe Byain Phyu is a group of companies with interests in gem mining and petrol stations. Its chairman, Thein Win Zaw, is a director of Mahar Yoma Public Company, part of a consortium that has a stake in the military-owned telco Mytel, corporate records show. He did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment on the sale and his links to the military.


The two firms made a joint proposal to take over the Telenor unit that was accepted by the junta leadership a month later, the industry sources said.


Activist group Justice for Myanmar called on Telenor [...] to suspend the sale.

"The fact that Shwe Byain Phyu is a buyer, a conglomerate with known links to the Myanmar military, deepens the risk to Myanmar people, whose personal data is exposed through the sale," spokesperson Yadanar Maung told Reuters.

Telenor has said its handover to a new buyer would include all assets, including call data records, in accordance with licence obligations.


Part of the following timelines

Myanmar: SOMO and 474 CSOs submit complaint to the OECD Norwegian NCP concerning Telenor's "irresponsible" disengagement from Myanmar

Myanmar: Military allegedly approves M1 & Shwe Byain Phyu partnership to takeover Telenor's operations; activists fear sale risks exposure of personal data