Update 25.03.2022: Telenor has completed the sale of Telenor Myanmar. The full announcement can be found on this link.
Update 18.03.2022: Telenor Group was informed that the Myanmar Investment Commission gave final regulatory approval to the sale of Telenor Myanmar to M1 Group. The full update can be found on this link.
Update 01.03.2022: An update about the regulatory process in Myanmar:
Telenor has received, and is currently assessing, a letter from the Post and Telecommunications Department in Myanmar (PTD) regarding the regulatory approval process. It is important to note that a PTD approval is only one step in the total approval process, and we are still awaiting final regulatory approval for the transaction between Telenor and M1 Group.
Update 23.02.22: An update on recent developments in Myanmar:
The situation in Myanmar today is extraordinary. After the military took power and the country is experiencing a conflict resembling a civil war. Telenor cannot operate under a regime that involves violating our values, international law and human rights principles. Telenor therefore has to leave Myanmar. A sale is the option that has the least negative consequences for employees, customers and the broader society.
Telenor is facing very sensitive security challenges in Myanmar, with employees on the ground in Myanmar who are refused to leave the country. This applies as long as the regulatory approval process for the sale of Telenor Myanmar is ongoing and is part of the overall and ongoing risk assessment made by Telenor.
Ever since the military took power, teams across Telenor have worked diligently on getting employees out of Myanmar and has managed to get several out of the country. Yet, there are still some who remain and are refused departure. Telenor has also confirmed to Norwegian media that one of these is a Norwegian citizen.
The safety of Telenor’s employees in Myanmar, regardless of nationality, has been the highest priority throughout this process.
Update 18.02.22: On 18 February, Jørgen C. Arentz Rostrup, EVP and Head of Telenor Asia, provided an update on the situation in Myanmar titled “We cannot make our employees in Myanmar delete data and break the law”. The full update can be found on this link.
Update 16.02.22: An update about the situation in Myanmar:
On 15 September 2021, Telenor Group provided an update about the situation in Myanmar related to sanctions and surveillance. As stated then, a key reason why Telenor is selling Telenor Myanmar is that we do not want to activate intercept equipment, which all operators are required to. Activation of such equipment is subject to Norwegian and EU sanctions. Telenor has as of 16 February 2022 not activated intercept equipment.
Due to well-founded concern for the safety of our employees, we will unfortunately not be able to comment further on the government directive to implement intercept equipment beyond today’s update.
Update 27.09.21: On 27 September, Telenor provided an update on the ongoing OECD complaint against Telenor on the sale of Telenor Myanmar. The full update can be found on this link.
Update 15.09.21: On 15 September, Telenor Group provided an update about the situation in Myanmar related to sanctions and surveillance.
As Telenor now has started the process for regulatory approval of the sale in Myanmar, it is a right time to give more background for our decision. It has become clear to us that our continued presence would require Telenor Myanmar to activate intercept equipment (for the use of Myanmar authorities) which is subject to Norwegian and international sanctions. Activation of such equipment is therefore unacceptable for Telenor Group. The full statement can be found on this link.
Update 28.07.21: On July 8, Telenor announced the sale of Telenor Myanmar to M1 Group. Due to heightened public interest in data privacy issues related to the sale of Telenor Myanmar and the wish for transparency and openness, Telenor provides the following update:
Telenor Myanmar has since its inception operated its telecommunication services in accordance with the relevant regulatory and licence obligations. The regulatory compliance also pertains to storing what is known as call data records. Call data records are the metadata generated as a result of communications using the telecom network, such as parties to the communications, time of and duration of the communication and from which tower or base station it is transmitted.
This data generated through the use of telecommunications services is a prerequisite for all mobile operators and is used for service provisioning, billing of customers and other telecom operators, product offering, quality monitoring and for operators to provide customer care services to its customers. Therefore, this data is required to provide any form of connectivity services. In all markets where Telenor Group has operations, these records are to be stored in accordance with local regulations, including in Myanmar.
Telenor Myanmar stores this data in accordance with local laws and licence obligations. This historical data does not contain any information on content of the communication, and neither Telenor Myanmar nor Telenor Group have any records of what has been said in a call or written or received in messages or emails.
Human rights impacts including data privacy have been key considerations leading up to the decision to sell Telenor Myanmar, alongside employee safety. We have thoroughly evaluated all options and believe a sale of the company is the best possible solution in this situation.
As part of the sales process, once the regulatory approval is received, ownership of Telenor Myanmar as an operating company will be transferred to M1 Group. The company will continue to keep its call data records to allow continued operations and avoid disruption of services for customers.
Update 08.07.21: On 8 July, Telenor Group announced an agreement to sell 100 percent of its mobile operations in Myanmar to M1 Group for a total consideration of 105 million USD (approximately 900 million NOK), of which 55 million USD (approximately 470 million NOK) is a deferred payment over five years. The transaction corresponds to an implied enterprise value of approximately 600 million USD (approximately 5.2 billion NOK). M1 Group will acquire all the shares in Telenor Myanmar and continue the current operation. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals in Myanmar. The full announcement can be found on this link.
Challenges and dilemmas in Myanmar
Under the current circumstances, Telenor faces several dilemmas in Myanmar. We entered Myanmar in 2013 with a clear ambition to support the country in its progress towards democracy and economic development. The recent events represent a set-back for the country’s path to reform. Access to telecom services is essential for people to exercise their basic right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to gain information. These services are also critical in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and for economic opportunities. When following authority orders in these irregular times, we know it has negative impact on human rights in Myanmar. We are working to minimise this impact, and Telenor continues to emphasise to the authorities that access to telecom services should be maintained at all times.
Keeping the network open and adhering to our established process continues to be important
Keeping open communication lines for the people in Myanmar is important, and Telenor continues to follow its established global process for handling authority directives. Each directive is assessed for legal basis, human rights impact, necessity and proportionality and our ability to be transparent.
As a local employer, Telenor Myanmar needs to handle a difficult situation and ensure the safety and security of employees on the ground during this state of emergency. Our ambition is to continue to take action, and to keep the local and global community informed. Telenor is deeply concerned with events in Myanmar and continues to assess the situation on ground.