After writing off the value of its Myanmar unit earlier this year, the local situation has not improved, leaving Telenor considering withdrawing
The start of 2021 saw massive upheaval in Myanmar, as a military coup took power from the elected government, plunging the country into disarray.
For Norway’s Telenor, who operates one of the largest mobile networks in the country, this political instability has been disastrous. The military junta has suppressed communications channels at various times, even going so far as to order mobile operators to cease mobile and wireless services almost entirely in some instances.
Back in May, the extent of the impact to Telenor Myanmar’s business was becoming clear, with the operator forced to write off their $782 million investment in the country.
“Due to the worsening of economic and business environment outlook and a deteriorating security and human rights situation, we see limited prospects of improvement going forward. Based on this, we have fully impaired Telenor Myanmar,” said Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke.
At the time, Brekke was quick to quell suggestions that Telenor would be leaving the Burmese market entirely, arguing that the operator could still “make a difference” to the nation’s future.
Now, however, it seems that Telenor may be considering pulling out of Myanmar after all, with the company saying that it is now “in the process of evaluating various options with regards to its presence in the country”.
Reports suggest that investment bank Citi has been hired to sell the unit, with non-binding bids due to be received in the coming weeks.
The political situation in Myanmar has not quietened in recent months, with Telenor’s Q1 earnings report showing that the military crackdown on communications had cut their subscription and traffic data in half.
Telenor has had a commercial presence in Myanmar since 2014 and currently employs around 750 staff in the country.
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