A Norwegian Telenor leader is denied departure by the military junta in Myanmar. The family is in Norway, and the Norwegian has not been outside Myanmar for over a year.
In an interview with local media NRK, CEO of Telenor Sigve Brekke says about the situation:
“He is alone in Myanmar, his family is at home in Norway. It is clear that it is very demanding. He has been in Myanmar for more than a year.”
Sigve Brekke explains that the Telenor management is in daily contact with him to find as good solutions as possible. Norwegian foreign authorities are also involved.
The unrest in Myanmar has ravaged the country after the military regained power on 1 February last year in a coup. Since then, there have been large demonstrations and the junta’s military forces have killed more than a thousand people, imprisoned thousands of others, and cracked down on mass protests since the coup.
Telenor has sold its mobile operations in the country to the Lebanese investment company M1 Group but seven months after the sale, Telenor has not yet received approval of the transaction.
To NRK, Sigve Brekke says he is concerned about the safety of all employees.
“We have 730 employees in Myanmar. And this is one of the things we’ve been really worried about for over a year, since the military takeover. The country is in a state of war, international laws and regulations are out of play. And that’s part of the reason why we simply can no longer be in the country. And by analyzing several solutions, we have found that a sale for us is the least bad solution.”
“The authorities say that they want to have leading Telenor employees on the ground as long as they have not clarified whether we will be allowed to sell the business or not. That is the reason,” Sigve Brekke says.
When asked what they have done specifically to get the person home, Sigve Brekke says:
“I can not go into all the dialogues we have had, but I can say we have used all possible alternatives that fortunately have succeeded in getting many others out. And now we are looking at this together with the Norwegian authorities to try to find a solution.”
When asked if it is relevant for Telenor to close the sale to get the Norwegian out, Sigve Brekke says that Telenor is waiting for a response from the Myanmar authorities to an application the company submitted several months ago.
“We have to wait and see, and in the meantime, we are trying to handle the situation we have now with the leading employee on the ground. Fortunately, we have received help from the Norwegian foreign authorities to see if we can find solutions,” Sigve Brekke says.
When asked if he is confident that the Norwegian employee can go home if the sales process goes through, Sigve Brekke says:
“Yes, that is what we really hope for, and also what the authorities say. But we are trying every day to get the employee and others out of this very demanding situation,” Sigve Brekke says.