Ooredoo said to mull reducing stake in $4b Myanmar arm

Sule Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Harish Shivaraman/Unsplash

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.

Bloomberg

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.