Telenor has confirmed that it still aims to exit the Myanmar market through a sale of its local unit.
The Norwegian operator group stated that it had hoped to remain in the market as it has built up a loyal customer base through its “demonstrated commitments to human rights, responsible business and international best practices.” However, it has decided to sell since it will “no longer [be] possible to adhere to these principles” if it remains in the market.
In July 2021, Telenor announced that it had found a buyer for its Myanmar unit in Lebanon’s M1 Group, although recent reports have indicated that the Myanmar authorities do not approve of the buyer and are attempting to stymie the deal.
Following the February coup in which Myanmar’s military seized power in the country, the junta has pressured operators into installing communications interception software. Telenor has thus far resisted, saying it has “worked actively to avoid activation of intercept equipment” and “will not do so voluntarily”.
The operator’s CEO Sigve Brekke stated on Twitter: “It’s impossible for us to stay in Myanmar due to our values, human rights, legal obligations and requirement to activate sanctioned intercept equipment for authority use. It’s been a tough decision to make and our thoughts are with the people of Myanmar.”
Telenor noted that selling its Myanmar operations to M1 would be “the least detrimental solution for the Myanmar society” as connectivity – including banking and healthcare services - would remain available for its 18 million subscribers.