Telenor has registered an impairment loss of NOK6.5 billion ($779.4 million) for its Myanmar unit as the country experiences a collapse in security and human rights standards following a military coup in February.
The Norwegian group noted that the political turmoil has had a knock-on effect on business. Myanmar’s economic prospects currently look limited. Telenor has stated that it does not expect them to improve significantly, and accordingly it has opted not to factor its Myanmar operations into its full-year outlook.
Myanmar’s military carried out the coup on 1st February in response to Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy winning a landslide victory in the general election. Immediately afterwards, authorities imposed several short-term shutdowns on social media but it was not until 15th March that a nationwide mobile data blackout was ordered.
Telenor noted that the restrictions had resulted in its subscription and traffic revenue being effectively halved, with its total revenue down 25% year-on-year to NOK1.39 billion. Additionally, it went from an operating profit of NOK408 million during Q1 2020 to a loss of NOK6.34 billion for the equivalent quarter in 2021.
This loss came despite Telenor Myanmar gaining 2 million subscribers during Q1 2021, with 18.2 million subscribers at the end of March. The operator called on Myanmar’s military junta to “immediately reinstate unimpeded communications and respect the right to freedom of expression and human rights”.