Four operators have expressed interest in bidding for two national mobile licences in Myanmar following an invitation to foreign companies by the country’s government.
According to Bloomberg, Southeast Asia’s biggest operator group SingTel and fellow Singaporean operator ST Telemedia, Malaysia’s Axiata and Nordic group Telenor all submitted expressions of interest by last Friday’s deadline.
The licences will be issued by June with a total of four planned. They will run for as long as 20 years with options to renew, a government statement said.
A draft telecommunications law, including the formation of an independent regulator by 2015, will be put before the Myanmar parliament during the first half of 2013.
The government aims to boost mobile coverage to up to 80 percent of Myanmar by 2016 by issuing the mobile licences. Myanmar currently has a mobile penetration of 9 percent with around 5.5 million subscribers.
Axiata said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg, that Myanmar is a “logical and interesting market to consider investing in” and “represents a strategic market given its high growth potential”.
SingTel commented that it “maintains an interest in investment opportunities in large, underpenetrated markets and will be financially disciplined in its evaluation of such opportunities”.
A Telenor spokesman said: “We believe that we are well-positioned to contribute in developing a successful mobile industry in Myanmar.”
Until now, the mobile sector in Myanmar has been controlled by the state-owned Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications. However, the country is undergoing an economic liberalisation and is keen to attract foreign investment.
It has also been reported that handset vendor HTC is looking to tap into the country.