Myanmar faced a military coup in 2021.
Qatar’s Ooredoo announced on Thursday that it has reached a deal to sell its Myanmar division to Nine Communications Pte. Ltd, a Singaporean company.
The transaction, which has an enterprise value of $576 million and is set to receive $162 million in total equity consideration, is subject to the usual closing requirements, including regulatory approvals from Myanmar.
According to a regulatory statement made by the Doha-based firm on the Qatar Stock Exchange, where its shares are traded, Ooredoo will sell 100% of its equity in Ooredoo Asian Investments Pte Ltd., the parent company that wholly controls both Ooredoo Myanmar Ltd. and Ooredoo Myanmar Fintech Ltd.
The divestment, according to Ooredoo Group CEO and Managing Director Aziz Aluthman Fakhroo, was the outcome of an assessment intended to restructure its portfolio.
Ooredoo is the very last majority foreign-owned telecoms company that was operating in Myanmar since an urgency to scurry after the military coup in 2021, Reuters reported.
Norway’s Telenor left the nation in March through a tough exit.
A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Qatar’s Ooredoo had alerted Myanmar’s regulator, the Posts and Telecommunications Department (PTD), of its plan to sell its business to Myanmar businessman Myo Myint Ohn, who has also led Singapore telecommunications firm Campana Group, but had not yet requested formal approval.
It had been previously reported in July that the Doha-based Ooredoo began talks to sell is Myanmar operations.
After formerly being one of Asia’s marketplaces with the greatest growth rates, the telecoms industry in Myanmar has come under significant pressure ever since the military took control in 2021.
Nationwide internet limitations were reported throughout 2021 and mobile data is still unavailable in some areas of the country.
The February 2021 coup began with the detainment of Aung San Suu Kyi President Win Myint and other senior figures from the National League for Democracy [NLD] during an early morning raid, followed by the announcement of a year-long state of emergency by the military.
The military attempted to justify the arrests saying it was in response to election fraud, granting power to army chief Min Aung Hlaing and replacing 24 ministers and deputies with 11 new members.
Shortly after, anti-coup protests erupted across the country with those opposing the military rule facing raids, censorship and arrests.
Four democratic campaigners were also sentenced to death by Myanmar’s military authorities after they were charged with performing “terror actions.”
The executions have been denounced by the UN as “depraved.”
At the start of the coup, the military raided data centres and cut internet cables while holding at gunpoint employees who resisted to comply.
Sources revealed that the military later ordered firms to block phone numbers belonging to activists, opponents and human rights lawyers, obligating operators to share customer lists with authorities.
Later in March, a month after the military coup took place, the army had completely cut access to mobile data as part of an internet blackout.
In a comment made shortly after the coup, Ooredoo said it “regretfully complied” with orders to restrict mobile and wireless broadband in Myanmar.
Prior to the military coup, Myanmar implemented what is known as “lawful intercepts” which, unlike in democratic countries, are unlawfully used by law enforcement agencies to monitor citizens.
Surveillance was already widespread in Myanmar after authorities introduced a social media monitoring system in 2018 under the pretext of preventing foreign influence.