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13 Jul 2021

Dominic Oo, Asia Times

Myanmar: Telenor’s divestment from Myanmar underscores the dilemma many foreign investors face

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"Myanmar’s conflagration sparked Telenor’s fire sale", 13 July 2021

Norwegian telecom giant Telenor’s surprise decision to divest from Myanmar underscores the dilemma many foreign investors face in the volatile and uncertain aftermath of the military’s February 1 coup.


A company statement cited a “further deterioration of the situation and recent developments in Myanmar” as the rationale for its sale.


Many observers anticipate the military will command greater control over the national telecom infrastructure in the transition from Telenor to M1 Group. That, many fear, could usher in a new period of intense cyber surveillance to ferret out opponents of the coup.  


Ooredoo, the Qatari operator that has been less willing to push back against the regime’s orders, and Japanese businesses KDDI and Sumitomo Corporation, who are in partnership with MPT in operating the state-run telecom service provider, are also expected to face new scrutiny.

Sumitomo executives told a news conference in May that the company did not expect to make any profit from its telecommunications business in Myanmar due to the political instability.


Shortly after Telenor announced its sale several food companies from Taiwan including Koi Bubble Tea and the US-pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s announced they too were leaving.

Japanese multinational auto and truck parts manufacturer Bridgestone has also decided to suspend its operations in Myanmar by the end of July. Thailand’s Amata industrial estate developer and Hong Kong’s Peninsula hotel chain have also announced the suspension of operations since the coup.


Part of the following timelines

Myanmar: Groups call on more companies allegedly linked to military to sever ties

Myanmar: Investors, businesses and global retail brands release statements urging for respect for human rights and democracy in the country

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