Lebanon’s M1 Group acquires Telenor Myanmar business

Lebanon’s M1 Group acquires Telenor Myanmar business
Customers line up outside a showroom to buy SIM cards at Telenor, Norwegian telecommunication company, in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP)
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Updated 08 July 2021

Lebanon’s M1 Group acquires Telenor Myanmar business

Lebanon’s M1 Group acquires Telenor Myanmar business
  • Telenor, one of the biggest foreign investors in Myanmar, sold its Myanmar operations to Lebanese investment firm M1 Group for $105 million

OSLO: Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor has sold its Myanmar business, blaming the difficulties of operating under the military junta and dealing a blow to activists who say they relied on the only Western operator for communications.
Telenor, one of the biggest foreign investors in Myanmar, sold its Myanmar operations to Lebanese investment firm M1 Group for $105 million, announcing its retreat from a country that slid into chaos after a military coup in February.
It was one of the few Western companies to bet on the South East Asian country after it emerged from military dictatorship a decade ago. Myanmar accounted for 7 percent of Telenor’s earnings last year.
“There are three reasons why we think a sale is necessary: it is the safety of our employees, but also the regulatory conditions and also that there is good compliance,” Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke told Reuters.
“When we wrote off the business in May, we felt we could still operate in the country, although it was challenging. But after that, it has worsened.”
In May, Telenor booked a loss of 6.5 billion crowns ($738 million) after seeing its mobile business in Myanmar severely restricted following the Feb. 1 military coup.
Myanmar’s junta has banned senior foreign executives of major telecommunications firms from leaving the country without permission and it is pressuring them to fully implement intercept technology that would let authorities monitor users, a source told Reuters earlier this week.
Activists expressed concern over the exit of Telenor, one of two foreign operators present alongside Qatar’s Ooredoo . The other operators in Myanmar are state-backed MPT and Mytel, which is part-owned by a military-linked company.


Saudi energy min sees demand from gas-to-oil switching at up to 600,000 bpd

Saudi energy min sees demand from gas-to-oil switching at up to 600,000 bpd
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 7 sec ago

Saudi energy min sees demand from gas-to-oil switching at up to 600,000 bpd

Saudi energy min sees demand from gas-to-oil switching at up to 600,000 bpd

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said users switching from gas to oil could account for demand of 500,000-600,000 barrels per day (bpd) depending on winter weather and related energy prices.


Prince Abdulaziz said that the rise in energy prices now is the result of limited investment in hydrocarbons, low inventories and post pandemic demand recovery.


Saudi CMA launches fifth round of fintech 'sandbox' licenses

Saudi CMA launches fifth round of fintech 'sandbox' licenses
Updated 27 min 4 sec ago

Saudi CMA launches fifth round of fintech 'sandbox' licenses

Saudi CMA launches fifth round of fintech 'sandbox' licenses

RIYADH: The Saudi Capital Market Authority (CMA) has launched its fifth round of fintech sandbox licenses, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

A sandbox, established through the regulator’s Financial Technology Lab, allows fintech startups and other firms to conduct live experiments under its supervision.

The authority said it will accept applications for financial technology test permits from firms until December 15.

The body launched its first fintech sandbox in February 2018, handing out 17 permits across five different product areas that included social trading platforms and automated advisor services.


Asia’s growth trimmed; UK inflation eases off slightly: Economic wrap

Asia’s growth trimmed; UK inflation eases off slightly: Economic wrap
Updated 43 min 48 sec ago

Asia’s growth trimmed; UK inflation eases off slightly: Economic wrap

Asia’s growth trimmed; UK inflation eases off slightly: Economic wrap

In its new regional outlook, the International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for Asia in 2021 to 6.5 percent, compared to the 7.6 percent it speculated in April. 

The international organization cited supply chain disruptions, inflation fears and a rise in Covid-19 infections as factors that could hamper growth in the region.

However, the 2022 growth forecast has been upwardly tweaked to 5.7 percent — up from the 5.3 percent April forecast.

Meanwhile, China is expected to grow by 8 percent this year and 5.6 percent in 2022.

UK inflation eases

The UK’s annual inflation rate tapered off to 3.1 percent in September 2021 down from its nine-year high of 3.2 percent in August, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed. 

Transport prices rose by 8.4 percent, helping fuel some of the country’s inflationary pressures. Conversely, rises in restaurants and hotels costs eased to 5.1 percent in September compared to 8.6 percent in August.

Month-on-month inflation also decreased to 0.3 percent in September — down from 0.7 percent in August.

In addition, the yearly core inflation rate, which excludes price changes in volatile items like food and energy, reached 2.9 percent in September, falling from 3.1 percent in the previous month.

German producer prices

Germany’s annual rise in producer prices climbed to 14.2 percent in September, according to official data.

Surging energy prices, last year’s low base effects and the current supply chain problems all meant that the country experienced its highest increase since October 1974.

Energy costs leapt by 32.6 percent while prices of intermediate goods rose by 17.4 percent.

This was accompanied by a month-on-month 2.3 percent increase in producer prices in September.

Japan’s trade deficit

The Japanese trade balance recorded a deficit of JPY622.8 billion ($5.44 billion) in September, compared to a JPY667.4 billion ($5.83 billion) surplus in the same month of last year, official data showed. This is the second consecutive month in which a deficit was posted for the country. 

Japanese imports leapt to a 34-month high of JPY7,463 billion ($65.19 billion) in September as it increased by an annual rate of 38.6 percent. Energy imports soared by 90 percent while purchases of electrical machinery jumped by 33.2 percent. Australian imports experienced the highest increase, climbing by 99.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the country’s exports jumped by 13 percent year-on-year to JPY6,841 billion ($59.76 billion) in September 2021. This was fuelled by a 23.7 percent increase in machinery exports. Exports of chemicals also rose considerably, growing by a 27.4 percent yearly rate.

Fed to hold on rates

A majority of economists expect the Federal Reserve to wait until 2023 before raising its rates, a survey conducted by Reuters showed.

Surveyed economists think that the biggest risk facing the US economy in the coming period is rising inflation.

China’s FDI 

Based on China's commerce ministry data, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the country surged by 19.6 percent in the first nine months of 2021, when compared to the same period of the last year, to reach $134.7 billion.


Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE reiterate support for Bahrain's fiscal program

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE reiterate support for Bahrain's fiscal program
Getty Images
Updated 56 min 8 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE reiterate support for Bahrain's fiscal program

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE reiterate support for Bahrain's fiscal program
  • The fiscal balance program - a set of reforms aimed at balancing the budget - was linked to the pledged $10 billion

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates reiterated their support for Bahrain's plans to balance its budget, a move expected to help their neighbor in the debt capital markets despite delays in plans to fix its heavily indebted finances.


The three Gulf allies extended a $10 billion aid package to Bahrain in 2018 to help it avoid a credit crunch.

Last month Bahrain said that due to the coronavirus crisis last year, it had postponed the target year for a balanced budget to 2024, and announced plans to hike a value-added tax to boost state coffers.


The fiscal balance program - a set of reforms aimed at balancing the budget - was linked to the pledged $10 billion.

The ministers of finance of wealthier Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE met with Bahrain's finance minister on Oct. 19 to discuss Bahrain's progress in improving its finances.

"The ministers welcomed the efforts made by the government of Bahrain in implementing the Fiscal Balance Program, and the progress made by the government despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic", the three countries said in a joint statement.

"The Ministers affirmed their support to the Kingdom of Bahrain’s efforts in pursuing further reforms to enhance fiscal stability and strengthen sustainable economic growth."

Bahrain's delaying of its fiscal balance program, which pushed back the zero-deficit target by two years, was seen as unlikely to deter investors from buying its debt due to expectations of continued support from richer Gulf allies, bankers and analysts have previously told Reuters.

Bahrain's public debt climbed to 133 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year from 102 percent in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.

S&P forecasts Bahrain's budget deficit, which was 16.8 percent of GDP last year, to average 5 percent between 2021 and 2024, excluding the impact of a possible hike in value-added tax.

The Arab Monetary Fund assessed the fiscal program achievements, the statement said.

 

 

 

 


Saudi Minister uses US trip to urge investors to 'seize opportunities' in the Kingdom

Saudi Minister uses US trip to urge investors to 'seize opportunities' in the Kingdom
Updated 57 min ago

Saudi Minister uses US trip to urge investors to 'seize opportunities' in the Kingdom

Saudi Minister uses US trip to urge investors to 'seize opportunities' in the Kingdom

The Saudi minister of investment will stress the Kingdom's position as a major global investment destination during his visit to the US, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

Khalid Al-Falih will meet a group of US officials on Wednesday to strengthen the existing strategic trade and investment partnership between the two countries, the agency reported. 

“We consider American investors to be our partners, and we hope that they will seize the tremendous opportunities that are presented in the transitional stage we are living in,” Al-Falih said in a statement. 

The trip follows the launch of the National Investment Strategy by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, last week.

"The National Investment Strategy will bring about a fundamental change in the investment landscape in Saudi Arabia, which will provide unprecedented opportunities and advantages for investors,” the minister noted.