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Telenor’s sale of Myanmar territory to the M1 was differentiated by junta’s opponents

The Myanmar military is frustrated with Telenor’s plans to sell its business in the Lebanese M1 Group, forcing a Norwegian telecom company to look for other buyers, according to three people familiar with government policy.

Even the military-led telephone ministry did not openly ban this from happening wants to sell for $ 105m to M1, the people told the Financial Times that the government wanted Telenor to sell to a Myanmar-controlled company. Local telephones and other companies have expressed their interest.

“Everyone knows them [the military] they have made a decision to refuse to sell, but have not announced, ”said one company official, who asked not to be named because of the terms of the agreement and business in Myanmar. “Telenor, knowing this, is considering alternative options.”

The company, which accounts for 54 percent of the Norwegian government, in response to questions about whether it is considering purchasing certain goods: “Telenor is still awaiting a response from the Myanmar government.”

M1 said it could not respond “further to ensure that the work is still in progress”.

Telenor has been pressured by civil society groups for its long-running efforts to leave Myanmar following a military coup in February that made his position illegal.

The company recorded a total of $ 782m in the country in May. In July, it announced the sale of its goods on the M1, which was set up by the Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and his brother Taha Mikati.

Sigve Brekke, head of Telenor, told FT in July that he had encountered a dispute over how to use the country “and. [a] dictatorship without compromising our values ​​”.

Myanmar government has killed or detained thousands and forced telecommunications companies to take action. limit online activities, pressured their employees and told them to set up the equipment – Telenor’s move helped make his decision go away.

But groups in Myanmar say the Telenor has “careless removal”From the country and failed to act responsibly or to minimize the seriousness of the human rights infringement of their decision to sell its services on M1.

In recent weeks, when it became clear that the junta was planning to sell, some local depositors contacted Telenor. “The most important thing in this case is that the government is not open about the fact that the M1 is the majority owner,” said one well-informed government official.

Yoma Group, a Myanmar-based group that deals with banks and other consumer industries, most of which own a tycoon. Serge Pun, may be interested in the tree, said a source familiar with the matter.

Yoma was a partner with Telenor in Wave Money, an e-wallet service that the Myanmar company has been seeking to raise.

Yoma declined to comment other than to say that it has remained “committed to Myanmar and continues to sell money in the country”, adding: “We have become close friends with Telenor and are continuing to seek to increase our investment in the Wave Money Alliance.”

Myanmar military spokesman Zaw Min Tun did not respond to a request for comment.

Additional reports of Chloe Cornish in Beirut

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