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Seven foreign firms keen for Myanmar’s fourth mobile licence

The government of Myanmar has revealed that 7 overseas firms have applied to acquire the country’s fourth mobile licence, which will be awarded this year.

Myanmar’s mobile sector has exploded over the past year, more than doubling in size from 15 million connections to 36.6 million. While the government has not named the interested parties, it is clear that the burgeoning mobile market in Myanmar is very attractive for foreign investors.

Now run as a joint venture between Japanese firms KDDI and Sumitomo, the state-owned incumbent MPT has had its 100% market share reduced to 46% since the June 2014 advent of competitors Telenor and Ooredoo to the market. The foreign firms’ combined subscriber bases totalled almost 20 million last quarter.

Foreign operators are understandably seeking to replicate this success, although it can be argued that the groundwork has been laid already – mobile penetration stood at just 11% when Ooredoo and Telenor won their licences in June 2013, and has mushroomed to 67% last quarter.

The foreign winner of the fourth licence will also be obliged to team up with a consortium of 11 local companies known as Myanmar National Telecom. Led by the state-owned ISP Yatanarpon Teleport (YTP), the consortium will take a 51% stake in a joint venture while the international firm will take the remaining 49%.

The terms of the licence will be the same as those awarded to Telenor and Ooredoo. Its initial validity will be 15 years with the possibility of extending this for a further 10 years. Currently MPT leads the market with 16.8 million connections, followed by Telenor with 14 million (a 38% share) and Ooredoo with 5.8 million (16%).

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