Telenor sells off digital payment business in Myanmar; new taxes hit operators

Telenor sells off digital payment business in Myanmar; new taxes hit operators

Telenor’s planned sale of its 51 percent stake in Myanmar's Wave Money, a digital payment service provider, for $53 million to a subsidiary of Yoma Strategic, mentioned in these pages in early January, is finally going through.

According to Reuters, the subsidiary, Yoma MFS Holdings Pte Ltd, is to be funded by a consortium of investors led by the Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic, part of Yoma Group. Yoma Group describes itself as a leading conglomerate in Myanmar with a focus on the real estate, financial services, automotive and heavy equipment, healthcare, consumer and tourism sectors.

However, a sale price that values Wave Money at about $104 million is much lower than the $150 million calculation in mid-2020 when the divestment deal was first mooted. That said, Wave Money has seen a significant recovery in volumes since June 2021

Telenor’s plans to sell its local telecoms business to Lebanese investment firm M1 Group still await approval from the Myanmar authorities.

Meanwhile the changing business climate has already had an effect on Myanmar’s telecoms industry and its end users after the imposition of new taxes by the country’s ruling military junta.

One major operator, MPT, has reminded its customers that new SIM card activations will be subject to one-time commercial tax of MMK 20,000 (about $11.25) and internet data services will be subject to commercial tax of 15 percent for both mobile and fixed internet services.

The company has therefore told its customers that there will be changes of prices in its products and services “especially for data consumption and activation of new SIM according to the new directive”.

MPT has over 23 million users and claims to have the widest mobile network coverage (96 percent) across the country.

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