Norwegian telecom company Telenor, one of Myanmar’s largest carriers, says it has agreed to sell its entire operations in the country to Lebanese-based investment firm M1 Group.
Telenor had previously announced that it was writing off the value of the business after a military takeover ignited a public backlash and authorities imposed limits on mobile and Internet use.
“The further deterioration in the situation and the recent developments in Myanmar form the basis for the decision to sell the company,” Telenor said in a statement.
It said the Beirut-based M1 Group will take over its entire Myanmar business, acquiring 100% of the company, its spectrum, licenses, contracts and operations, employees and customers. The deal is subject to regulatory approval in Myanmar.
The vested value of the entire business is approximately $600 million, it said.
Telenor had previously said that its continued presence in the country would depend on whether it could make a “positive contribution to the people of Myanmar” under the current military leadership, which ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Many foreign companies investing in Myanmar are in the awkward position of balancing the interests of themselves and their employees against pressure from both inside and outside the country to comply with sanctions against their military leaders.
Some companies have suspended construction projects or stopped paying dividends in response to such calls.
Telenor said the situation in Myanmar is becoming increasingly challenging due to security, regulatory and compliance reasons.
“We have evaluated all options and believe that selling the company is the best possible solution in this situation,” Telenor Group President and CEO Sigwe Breke said in a statement.
M1 Group is a diversified company with interests in investment, real estate, fashion, financial technology and telecommunications services. Its MTN network provides services in Africa and the Middle East.