Myanmar Tower Company (MTC), which is owned by Digical Asian Holdings, a joint venture between Digicel Group and YSH Finance, has been put up for sale, including all its contracts and sites, according to several market sources.
Several companies have made an initial bid and are now carrying out the due diligence process on MTC, according to a source at one of the companies, who did not want to be named as the matter is sensitive.
MTC and Yoma Strategic both declined to comment.
Digicel Group first came to Myanmar with a view to securing one of two international telecommunications licences tendered by the government, which were eventually won by Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo.
Digicel Asian Holdings comprised Digicel Group, George Soros’s Quantum Strategic Partners and YSH Finance, according to company statements at the time. YSH Finance comprises Yoma Strategic Holdings and First Myanmar Investment Company, both chaired by prominent local businessperson Serge Pun.
After Ooredoo and Telenor won the licences, Digicel and YSH restructured Digicel Asian Holdings and formed a subsidiary called Myanmar Tow
er Company, which signed an agreement in 2013 with Ooredoo to develop, construct and lease 1250 telecommunications towers. Unlike other towers companies such as Irrawaddy Green Towers, MTC did not provide power to Ooredoo.
In May 2014, Yoma increased its stake in MTC from 8 percent to 25pc.
Ooredoo launched its services in August 2014 in Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and surrounding area. Senior company officials said at the time that they wish they had more towers to provide coverage particularly in Yangon, though a tricky approvals process and impact from the rainy season slowed down the construction. Besides MTC, Ooredoo had an agreement with Pan Asia Towers to build its sites.
Myanmar’s land-use law has posed challenges for the companies building telecoms towers. For example, the law specifies more than 10 types of land and also often requires that projects receive approval from more than one ministry or department.
In December last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a loan of up to $100 million to Yoma Strategic to “improve infrastructure connectivity”. It was not clear how much of this loan would have been used to build telecommunication towers.
Digicel Group Limited is an international telecommunications provider with operations in 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific. It is owned by Irish businessperson Denis O’Brien, and has been in operation for 13 years.
Mr O’Brien’s businesses also own Myanmar electronic payments company Red Dot Network, as well as a major shareholder of MyJobs, one of Myanmar’s main recruitment companies.
Earlier this month, Mr O’Brien and his business partner Leslie Buckley sold their China recruitment business ChinaHR.com to online classifieds company 58.com.
Source: Myanmar Times