AP: ‘Myanmar telecom deal with Qatar firm sparks ire’

The AP reports:

Religious tensions engulfing Myanmar spread Friday to the world of big business: Monks and others in the Buddhist-dominated country demanded to know why a lucrative license for a new national mobile phone network had gone to a company from a Muslim nation.

There’s more on the deal itself from Bloomberg:

Norway’s Telenor ASA (TEL) and Ooredoo QSC (QTEL) of Qatar won licenses to expand telecommunications in Myanmar, one of the world’s last remaining untapped markets where only about one in 10 people has a mobile phone.

The two carriers beat nine other bidders including Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (ST), billionaire George Soros and Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI) in the auction. A France Telecom SA-Marubeni Corp. group was named as a backup in case one of the winners doesn’t fulfill final requirements.

The decision ends a six-month race that drew 91 expressions of interest to operate in the country of 64 million people. The licenses are among the biggest prizes for foreign companies since President Thein Sein moved to allow greater political and economic freedom after taking power in 2011. They’ll be awarded according to a telecommunications law that parliament expects to adopt soon, according to a statement yesterday.

(All emphasis mine.)

Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I'm reading, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. For updates, get my weekly email newsletter.

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