Is Ooredoo planning an exit from Myanmar?

Myanmar Post & Telecommunications

It has yet to be formally confirmed by Ooredoo, but Reuters has reported that the international communications company, operating across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, is in talks to sell its Myanmar unit.

In fact, according to Reuters’ sources, Ooredoo has already informed Myanmar's Posts and Telecommunications Department (PTD), the country's regulator, that it plans to sell its Myanmar business.

As Myanmar's third-biggest operator the company could boast nearly 15 million users in 2020, before February 2021's military coup. The population of Myanmar is about 54.4 million.

While there is still no acknowledgement of the planned sale, Reuters has suggested that potential buyers for the company include Myanmar conglomerate Young Investment Group, Singapore’s network infrastructure operator Campana Group, and telecoms company SkyNet, owned by Myanmar group Shwe Than Lwin.

Apart from Myanmar, Ooredoo has a presence in Southeast Asia through units in Indonesia, Laos, the Maldives and Singapore.

If Ooredoo leaves that would mean no more foreign operators would be present in the country which would be served by state-owned Myanmar Post & Telecommunications (MPT), military-owned Mytel, ATOM and the Ooredoo Myanmar buyer which, it can be assumed, will have to work with a local partner if it is not itself locally owned.

As we reported in June, ATOM (Advancing Telecommunications of Myanmar) is the name of the newest operator in the country following the sale of the local Telenor Group unit in Myanmar to Lebanese investment company M1 Group and a local partner.

Whoever takes over Ooredoo’s local unit, all operators in Myanmar are obliged to install intercept technology to enable the junta to monitor calls, messages and web traffic. This was a major driver behind Telenor’s exit.

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