Singapore firms miss out on winning Myanmar's telco licences

THE two Singapore firms in the race for Myanmar's highly coveted telecommunications licences failed to make it across the finish line.

SingTel, Singapore's largest telco, and Yoma Strategic Holdings, a Singapore-listed company focused on Myanmar operations, both lost in the contest for two 15-year licences to operate telecoms services in Myanmar.

Instead, Norway's Telenor and Qatar's Ooredoo, formerly Qatar Telecom, will be the first foreign companies to enter one of the world's last virtually untapped mobile phone markets.

France Telecom's Orange, which tied up with Japan's Marubeni Corporation, was named as a back-up in case either of the winners fails to fulfil the post-selection requirements.

Ahead of the result, which was announced in the evening, SingTel's shares surged while Yoma's were halted from trading.

SingTel, which had teamed up with Myanmar partners KBZ and M-Tel, saw its share price jump 12 cents, or 3.3 per cent, to close at $3.72.

Shares of Yoma, which had partnered Jamaica's Digicel and Mr George Soros' Quantum Strategic Partners for the bid, closed at 96 cents on Wednesday, down 1 cent from the day before.

More than 90 companies and consortia around the world had thrown their hats into the ring for Myanmar's telco licences, but only 12 made it as finalists.

These included India's Bharti Airtel, Malaysia's Axiata, Japan's KDDI Corp, Africa's MTN, Vietnam's Viettel, and Millicom, headquartered in Luxembourg.

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