Telenor to divest more Myanmar businesses; sells digital payment business

Norwegian cell phone operator Telenor announced Monday it is selling its stake in a digital payment service in Myanmar in the wake of the military coup in the Asian country.  

As such, Telenor’s planned sale of its 51 percent stake in Myanmar’s Wave Money, a digital payment service provider, for $53 million to a subsidiary of Yoma Strategic, is going through.  

The subsidiary, Yoma MFS Holdings, is to be funded by a consortium of investors led by the Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic, according to Reuters. This Yoma Strategic is part of Yoma Group, which describes itself as a leading conglomerate in Myanmar focusing on the real estate, financial services, automotive and heavy equipment, healthcare, consumer, and tourism sectors.  

Telenor’s plans to sell its local telecoms business to Lebanese investment firm M1 Group still await approval from the Myanmar authorities.  

After the coup, the military changed the business climate, which affected Myanmar’s telecoms industry and its end users after the imposition of new taxes.  

As one of the biggest operators, MPT notified its customers that new SIM card activations would be subject to a one-time commercial tax of $11.25. Internet data services will be subject to a commercial tax of 15 percent for both mobile and fixed internet services.  

Therefore, the company told its customers that there would be changes in prices in its products and services “especially for data consumption and activation of new SIM according to the new directive.”  

It is worth mentioning that MPT has over 23 million users and claims to have the most comprehensive mobile network coverage (96 percent) across the country.  

Back in July 2021, the Norwegian company announced the sale of its subsidiary in Myanmar, Telenor Myanmar, one of the country’s leading operators.  

The sale to Lebanese financial company M1 Group has still not been finalized, with reports claiming the group faces resistance from the regime in approving the deal.  

In September, Telenor accused the military government of demanding the installation of equipment in order to intercept telecommunications, stressing that it has refused the demand.  

Last but not least, the deal remains subject to various conditions, including approval from Myanmar’s central bank.