Jun 5, 2013

Digicel, partners to invest US$9 billion in Myanmar

The Digicel consortium aims to invest up to US$9 billion to build out telecom services in Myanmar's virtually untapped mobile market.

Denis O'Brien's Digicel Group has partnered with Serge Pun's YSH Finance Limited, a joint venture between First Myanmar Investment and Yoma Strategic Holdings, and George Soros' Quantum Strategic Partners.

"Digicel will invest almost US$9 billion in a world-class mobile phone network. Of this, US$6.6 billion will be directly invested in Myanmar; employ over 7,000 people by the end the first year; Digicel's investment in Myanmar will lead to the creation of 124,000 indirect jobs," said Digicel Group, announcing the submission of its bid on Monday.

Comparatively, after 12 years of operation, Digicel Group's total investments to date across 32 markets stand at US$4.5 billion worldwide.

The Digicel consortium is reportedly one of 12 shortlisted bidders, the others being: Airtel Consortium; Axiata Group; France Telecom-Orange and Marubeni; KDDI, Sumitomo, Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Development Corp and A1 Construction; Millicom International Cellular; MTN Consortium; Qatar Telecom; Singtel, KBZ and Myanmar Telephone Co; Telenor; and Viettel Group.

The Vodafone/China Mobile partnership withdrew on May 31, saying the potential returns from their investment do not meet their threshold.

If successful, Digicel said it would launch its 4G mobile phone network in December this year in time for the SEA Games hosted by Myanmar. It plans to reach 96 per cent coverage at the end of 2015 in a country of some 62 million people.

"This is truly a historic day for Digicel. With FMI/Yoma and Quantum Strategic Partners, our consortium brings unrivalled expertise, local experience and resources to deliver a world-class telecommunications service to Myanmar," said O'Brien, the chairman and founder of Digicel Group.

Digicel already employs 893 people in Myanmar, with a further 3,500 earmarked for hiring. Digicel is currently the title sponsor of the Myanmar Football Federation and the Myanmar Special Olympics Federation.

Source: The Gleaner