Norway’s Telenor writes off Myanmar business after coup, posts Q1 loss

FILE PHOTO: Telenor’s logo is seen in central Belgrade. Photo: Reuters

Norway’s Telenor is experiencing a first-quarter loss after the Myanmar military seized power in the 1 February coup and the company has written off the value of the company’s operations in Myanmar, media Reuters reports.

While Telenor’s shares decreased Tuesday, the company will continue to operate its mobile business in the country but it remains sharply restricted following the coup. Telenor has operated in Myanmar since 2014 but the military regime has after the coup imposed network restrictions for all operators including a nationwide shutdown of mobile data on 15 March. Following the shutdown, Telenor’s subscriptions and traffic revenues decreased by 50 percent, the company said.

The mobile data shutdown however saw a rise in call volumes which increased Telenor’s local customer base in Myanmar with about 2 million new users in the first quarter, making its total customer base about 18.2 million users.

In a company statement, Telenor said, “Telenor calls on the authorities to immediately reinstate unimpeded communications and respect the rights to freedom of expression and human rights.”

CEO Sigve Brekke said that while the company saw an “irregular, uncertain, and deeply concerning situation” with “limited prospects of improvement going forward”, Telenor would stay in Myanmar for now. “We still believe we are making a difference when keeping our operations running,” he told an earnings presentation. “We strive to continue to do so to the best of our ability.”

Sigve Brekke added that the current uncertainty makes it impossible to comment on future options and Telenor’s continued presence will depend on the development in Myanmar.

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