Asia World sells jade, mining, toll road businesses

Asia World Company, one of Myanmar’s largest conglomerates, has restructured its business, dropping its toll road, coal-plant, petrol station and mining interests, according to a company spokesperson.

The aim is to “streamline operations and improve sustainability,” said the company in a statement. Asia World is owned by US-blacklisted businessman U Htun Myint Naing, who goes by many aliases including Steven Law.

Asia World will now focus on its infrastructure, energy and property development businesses, a company statement said.

These include port terminals, an international airport in Yangon, and another in Nay Pyi Taw, hotels and the management of properties including Yangon’s Hledan Centre. The company will also continue working in the hydropower sector, the spokesperson said.

As part of the restructure, the company has divested all the road concessions under its management, the statement said. These include the road from Yangon to Ngwe Saung in Ayeywarday Region, sections of the road between Yangon and Mandalay, the road between Mandalay and Muse in Shan State, and a toll road that runs along Yangon’s Strand Road.

Early last year, Asia World also sold its holdings in coal energy projects, including a memorandum of understanding to build a coal-fired plant at Kyun Gyan Gon, though its former subsidiary Virtue Land Company.

The project had divided local residents, as previously reported by The Myanmar Times. Some argued it was needed for the development of their villages, while others feared it would simply pollute their homes, for the benefit of Asia World and electricity users in Yangon.

The company has also sold its interests in the Thilawa Import Oil & Gas Terminal distribution business and Green Luck petrol stations, the statement said, and jade mining company Yadanar Taung Tann Gems. A spokesperson said the group no longer has any interests in the jade sector.

Watchdog Global Witness said in a report published at the end of last year that Asia World had made at least US$48.2 million from jade sales in 2013 and 2014.

Global Witness said it had asked Asia World for a meeting in February last year to discuss Yadanar Taung Tann, and that by September 2015, the names Htun Myint Naing and Lo Ping Zhong (Steven Law’s Chinese name) had been removed from the company registry.

Of the recent divestments, Asia World chair U Htun Myint Naing said in a statement, “Asia World Company was founded with a strong belief in making lasting contributions to the people of Myanmar and the future of the country, and we reiterate our commitment to play a leading role in Myanmar’s economic growth and progress.”

“We have streamlined our business to focus on infrastructure, energy and property projects, and we are confident this strategy will enable us to deliver more projects that are in compliance with international standards of quality and efficiency,” he said.

The statement did not say who the businesses had been sold to, and the spokesperson declined to comment.

Source: Myanmar Times

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