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Myanmar unrest pushes Telenor deep into loss

 Myanmar unrest pushes Telenor deep into loss This file photograph taken on October 27, 2014, shows customers as they queue to buy Telenor sim cards at a local mobile shop in Yangon. The Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor, one of the main operators in Myanmar, announced on May 4, 2021, that it was writing down all its assets in the country because of the deterioration of the situation since the military coup on February 1. (AFP/Ye Aung Thu)
AFP
Yangon, Myanmar   ●   Tue, May 4, 2021 2021-05-04 19:56 10 559f5bc8c5224ad06a25184c0a4588a1 2 Business Myanmar,telco-operator,loss,democracy Free

Norwegian telecoms group Telenor said Tuesday it was pushed deep into loss in the first quarter after it was forced to write down all of its assets in Myanmar, where it is a major operator, as a result of the unstable situation there since the military coup on February 1.

Telenor said in a statement that it booked net loss of 3.9 billion kroner ($470 million, 390 million euros) in the period from January to March, compared with bottom-line profit of 698 million kroner in the same period a year earlier.

The loss was largely due to a writedown of 6.5 billion Norwegian kroner on its assets in Myanmar, where Telenor has had a commercial presence since 2014 and employs a workforce of around 750, the group said. 

"Due to the worsening of (the) economic and business environment outlook and a deteriorating security and human rights situation, we see limited prospects of improvement going forward," said chief executive Sigve Brekke.

He described the situation in the country as "deeply concerning".

"Prolonged mobile internet restrictions have severely impacted the people of Myanmar and the country's economy," Brekke said.

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

The Myanmar army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a coup on February 1, citing fraud in the parliamentary elections that her party won by a wide margin in November, prompting protests. 

Internet connections remain severely disrupted to prevent protesters from organising.

Many international companies present in the country have been impacted by the unrest, with several groups temporarily suspending operations.