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Tue 4 Jun 2013 10:26 AM

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Soros fund to rival Qatar for Myanmar telco licence

Consortium led by billionaire promises to invest $9bn in country's telecoms market

Soros fund to rival Qatar for Myanmar telco licence
Billionaire George Soros.

A consortium led by billionaire investor George Soros is to rival Qatar’s Ooredoo in bidding for a mobile network licence in Myanmar.

The CEO of Ooredoo, formerly known as Qatar Telecom, has previously described the South-East Asian nation’s telecommunications sector as “one of the last untapped markets”.

Mobile penetration in Myanmar, which transitioned to a civilian government after decades of military rule two years ago, stands at about 5 percent.

The Soros consortium, which includes Digicel Group and local property firm YSH Finance, said it would invest $9bn in the country’s mobile phone network if it is granted a licence.

It added that its fourth-generation network would be up and running by December and reach 96 percent of the country’s population by 2016.

China Mobile and Vodafone Group have already withdrawn from the bidding process for the licence, citing a lack of return on investment, but the likes of Airtel, France Telecom, Telenor and MTN remain in the running.