The Myanmar government has selected Norway's Telenor and Qatar-based Ooredoo as the winners of two nationwide telecom licenses.
The two operators beat out competition from nine other shortlisted individual or consortium bidders – including SingTel, Bharti Airtel, Axiata and KDDI - to secure the highly-prized licenses.
Ooredoo has announced plans to commence a mobile network rollout once negotiations with the government regarding the final details of the license are complete.
“Myanmar will undoubtedly become a key market for Ooredoo as we build out our network,” Ooredoo chairman Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani said.
Informa Telecoms and Media chief research officer Mark Newman said the awards “cement Telenor and Ooredoo as two of the most ambitious and aggressive investors in the Asian telecoms sector. Both companies have relatively small home markets and have identified Asia as their preferred region for expansion.”
One of Ooredoo's biggest regional assets is Indonesia's Indosat, which operates in a highly-competitive market. The company also owns stakes in Singapore's StarHub and Laotian incumbent fixed and mobile operator LTC.
Telenor for its part has invested heavily in its Indian operations, now currently run by joint venture Telewings, and unlike some international players, remained committed to the market even after the court-ordered cancellation of its 2G licenses in 2012.
“Telenor’s and Ooredoo’s experience in these countries and their ability to maintain viable businesses while offering extremely competitive prices will have been crucially important in the government’s decision to award them the licenses,” Newman said.
“Telenor and Ooredoo rank 7th and 22nd, respectively, among global mobile operator investors and their “proportionate” subscribers. However, this ranking fails to show how much the two operators have expanded internationally in comparison with their peers. This is because both have small home markets.”
Myanmar's lower house had earlier this week voted to delay the license allocation process while the nation's new telecom law remains stuck in parliament.
But the head of the selection committee overseeing the tender for the two licenses told Reuters that the committee had decided to announce the winners regardless, noting that parliament did not have the power to stop the process so late in the game.