MPT partnership talks drag on with foreign firm

Talks between Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) and Japan’s KDDI continue despite passing an internal deadline, according to insiders.

MPT officials told The Myanmar Times previously that an agreement would be announced by the end of May, but now they say there is no firm end in sight.

“Both sides want to sign an agreement as soon as possible, but detailed discussions still continue,” said U Than Tun Aung, director from MPT’s Posts and Telecommunications Department. “I cannot you give a target date for signing an agreement.”

MPT held a closed tender with KDDI, France’s Orange Telecom and Singapore-based SingTel last year, before telling KDDI it was the preferred partner in December.

U Than Tun Aung said a joint operations agreement will be signed before a joint venture partnership, with both firms pledging different amounts of capital.

KDDI leads a consortium also including Japan’s Sumitomo and two local partners: Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Development Corporation and A1 Construction Company.

Officials from KDDI’s rivals voiced displeasure about the process.

“We found out that MPT was to partner with KDDI through the media,” said an official from Orange who requested anonymity. “It is not transparent that they didn’t inform us or official make an announcement.”

The initial request for proposal from MPT also stated that a partnership agreement needed to be signed with a preferred partner within three months, though five months have since elapsed, the official said.

Orange met with MPT for partnership negotiations in early December as part of the tender before MPT informed the French firm it had chosen another unspecified partner at the end of December 2013.

“That is all I would like to comment at the moment,” the official said. “We will make an official announcement detailing the process when MPT and KDDI sign the official agreement.”

Negotiations between MPT and the three foreign firms commenced after they missed out two licences issued to Telenor and Ooredoo in April last year. The licensing process for Telenor and Ooredoo has generally been described as transparent and fair.

Ministry spokesperson U Kyaw Soe said there are several issues that still require discussion.

“The main thing we are now discussing is what appointments MPT’s staff will hold in the new partnership, as well as an agreement on technology and investment,” he said.

However, U Kyaw Soe declined to confirm the firm which MPT is currently negotiating.

“We have already chosen the potential partner. It is MPT’s right to choose whoever they like. We will choose the international partner that can be the most profitable,” he said.

One source requesting anonymity said a main sticking point is the future of MPT’s 11,674 staff in the venture.

MPT is currently the sole telecoms operator in Myanmar, though both Telenor and Ooredoo are expected to begin operations in the coming months.

Source: Myanmar Times

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