Norwegian telco Telenor writes off its Myanmar operation

Military coup creates such a nasty environment it’s hung up on $780 million of assets

Norwegian telco Telenor has written off its entire mobile business in Myanmar, citing the “deteriorating security and human rights situation,” after the military seized control of the nation’s government in February and imposed rolling internet blackouts.

“In Myanmar, we see an irregular, uncertain, and deeply concerning situation,” says the telco’s Q1 2021 results announcement. “Due to the worsening of economic and business environment outlook and a deteriorating security and human rights situation, we see limited prospects of improvement going forward.”

“Based on this, we have fully impaired Telenor Myanmar with an amount of NOK 6.5bn (US$780m) in the quarter.” The carrier decided not to include revenue from Myanmar – which reached around $750m in 2020 - in its outlook.

Telenor’s 2020 annual report [PDF], says it had 16 million customers in Myanmar, but that business conditions were challenging before the coup.

Telenor’s Q1 results were mixed. Revenue reached ~$US3.47bn, a 1.6 per cent year-on-year dip, but subscriber numbers jumped by five million. Higher taxes and the Myanmar situation saw it record a $470m loss for the quarter.

The company wants Myanmar’s Junta to stop blocking the internet - and not just to help its business.

“Telenor calls on the authorities to immediately reinstate unimpeded communications and respect the right to freedom of expression and human rights.” ®

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