Lebanese investment firm M1 Group has pledged to spend 30 330 million over the next three years to boost Myanmar’s telecom business, which it is buying from Norway’s Telenor ASA, in February by a number of international investors. Stopping attempts to leave the Southeast Asian country after the military seized power.
The funds will be used to expand the network, broadband infrastructure and services, Azmi T. Mikati, chief executive officer of M1 Group, said in an interview. Telenor Myanmar agreed to sell in July for 105 million. With regulatory approval pending, it will give the Beirut-based group control of one of the four major telecom operators, with 19 million subscribers in the country of 55 million people.
“Instead of moving away from the challenging environment, we are committed to supporting those who live in them with world-class service, regardless of the political situation,” Mikati said. “Telecommunications is an essential service, especially in difficult situations.”
The M1 Group is a holding company of the billionaire Makati family, which includes Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Makati. According to its website, it has invested in South African telecom firm MTN Group Limited, fashion retailer Pep Jeans and property in New York, London, Dubai and Beirut. It is also part of the telecom tower operator in Myanmar.
“The desire to work in some of the world’s toughest markets, or rather the preparation, is part of our mission,” said Azmi Mikati.
Myanmar’s military overthrew a city government led by Aung San Suu Kyi in February. The power outage came as one of the region’s poorest nations, Kovid 19, was battling an epidemic. It borders India, China, Thailand, Bangladesh and Laos.
Telenor CEO Sagway Breke said in a statement announcing the sale: “Difficulties in Telenor have increased over the past few months due to public security, regulatory and compliance reasons.” The Norwegian company set up its Myanmar unit in May 2014, which is “completely weak” and raised 6.5 billion kroner (50 750 million).