M1 Group buys mobile network
in Myanmar from Norwegian firm
Purchase price struck at a tenth of original value
Lebanon-based M1 Group is investing $330 million over the next three years in Telenor Myanmar after buying a controlling share in the company from Telenor ASA (Norway) for $105 million. The investment is earmarked for broadband infrastructure and services and network expansion.
The purchase price was paid with a $50 million down payment and the balance scheduled over five years. The Norwegian company had invested more than ten times this amount in the past seven years. It pulled out from Myanmar following a coup in the country.
Telenor Myanmar had 16 million mobile subscriptions generating $825 million in 2020. It employs 747 people. There are three other telecom operators in Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Telenor ASA’s largest shareholder is the Norwegian government.
M1 Group is an investment company owned by Taha and Najib Mikati and their families. It is chaired by Taha Mikati and managed by his son Azmi.
The Mikati were behind the first mobile network in Lebanon which was introduced in the early 1990s and operated under the Cellis brand. They subsequently expanded into Syria and Africa. They sold their telecom business to South African based MTN Group in 2006 for $5.6 billion. The sale also included a 25 percent share in MTN.
“Rather than shying away from challenging environments, we are committed to supporting the people who live in them with world-class service, regardless of the political situation,” Azmi Mikati said. “Telecommunications is an essential service, especially in challenging circumstances.”
M1’s other holdings include real estate in Beirut, Dubai, and New York, and Pepe Jeans, a clothing retail chain.
Date Posted: Sep 06, 2021