Myanmar's fourth telecoms licence attracts 7 foreign bidders

A proposal by the Myanmar government to issue a fourth telecoms licence has attracted seven foreign bidders, which Reuters noted do not appear to have been put off by the prospect of having to partner with more inexperienced domestic companies.

Chit Wai, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), told Reuters that the companies had submitted expressions of interest earlier this month, but did not reveal any further details.

The winning bidder would join Ooredoo and Telenor as an international player on the Southeast Asian country's mobile communications market. The two existing operators launched 3G services in 2014. They also compete with Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), which operates in partnership with Japan's KDDI Corp. and Sumitomo Corp.

Unlike Ooredoo and Telenor, Reuters said the fourth entrant would be required to hold the position as a minority shareholder in a joint venture with a consortium of 11 public companies that are mainly focused on agriculture, as well as a government shareholder.

The Myanmar market is still regarded as rich with opportunity, with a mobile penetration rate that is now at 63 per cent, Reuters said. The news agency added that MPT has 18 million subscribers, followed by Telenor with 12 million and Ooredoo with 5.8 million.

The award of the fourth licence has been subject to some delays. For example, in September last year the local Irrawaddy newspaper reported that the government delayed the award of the market's fourth and final mobile telecoms licence until October despite receiving expressions of interest from 17 local companies.

According to the required criteria, companies must have operated for at least three months and have capital of at least MMK3 billion (€2.1 million/$2.3 million). Yatanarpon Teleport has previously been reported to be one of the favourites, according to a July 2015 report from the Myanmar Times. In December 2014 it was reported that the state-backed Internet service provider planned to partner with Vietnam's Viettel Global to build the market's fourth mobile network.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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