Qatari carrier Ooredoo QPSC is considering reducing its stake in its Myanmar unit amid fierce competition in one of the world’s newest mobile-phone markets, people familiar with the matter said.
Ooredoo has been gauging interest from potential investors including state-owned China Telecommunications Corp. about taking a stake in its Myanmar business, according to the people. A deal could value the unit at as much as $4 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
A transaction could involve a partner investing in Ooredoo’s Myanmar business in return for a stake of around 40%, the people said. Ooredoo would lower its exposure to a country where it faces steep price competition from Mytel SA, a new player backed by Vietnam’s Viettel Global Investment JSC, and Norway’s Telenor ASA.
Ooredoo has been seeking cash to fund next-generation network rollouts in other markets, according to the people. No final decisions have been made, and talks could still fall apart, the people said. Other investors for Ooredoo’s Myanmar unit may still emerge, they said.
A representative for Ooredoo declined to comment. China Telecom Group “currently has no plan” to acquire enterprises in Myanmar, according to a representative for its listed unit China Telecom Corp. The representative wouldn’t comment on any potential minority stake investment.
Ooredoo Myanmar’s revenue in the first nine months of the year dropped 19% to 807 million riyals ($220 million) due to price competition and local currency depreciation, according to its website. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization for the period rose 30% to 226 million riyals and its customer base reached 10 million customers at the end of September.
Ooredoo has been in Myanmar since 2013, when the country opened up its telecommunications industry. The Qatari carrier and Telenor won licenses to operate in the country after fending off competition from more than 90 rivals including Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., billionaire George Soros and Bharti Airtel Ltd.