Telenor Group has gained final regulatory approval to sell its unit in Myanmar to Lebanese investment company M1 Group, pointing its exit to increasing human rights concerns after a military coup in the country last year.
In a statement, Telenor detailed that Myanmar authorities made it a condition that M1 Group must have a local partner in the ownership of Telenor Myanmar after closing the transaction.
M1’s local partner Shwe Byain Phyu has acquired 49% of Investcom, a Singapore-based company set up by M1 for the purchase of Telenor Myanmar. After the acquisition between M1 and Telenor, the former will sell an additional 31% of Investcom shares to Shwe Byain Phyu.
Telenor has carried out due diligence to ensure both M1 and its local partner are not subject to international sanctions. The Telenor Myanmar brand will be used by the new owners for four months and have a transition service agreement with Telenor for six months.
Telenor group president and CEO Sigve Brekke said: “Telenor has to leave Myanmar to be able to adhere to our own values on human rights and responsible business, and because local laws in Myanmar conflict with European laws.
“The security situation is extreme and deteriorating, and we must ensure that our exit does not increase the safety risk for employees. With limited options available, the sale of Telenor Myanmar is deemed to be the most realistic alternative to keep our employees safe.
“Because of the current situation, we are significantly constrained in our choices and with this approval the transaction can be finalised. Telenor has not been party to any dialogue between M1 and its local partner.”