Vodafone Group Plc and China Mobile Ltd., the two biggest wireless companies, will join forces to bid for mobile licenses in Myanmar as investors and operators jostle to be among the first into the Southeast Asian country, according to Bloomberg.
The licenses would allow Newbury, England-based Vodafone and China Mobile to build and operate a nationwide network for 15 years, they said today in a statement. Myanmar will announce the winners in early July, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said in March.
Investors are piling into newly opened Myanmar, which has less than 10 percent mobile penetration among its 64 million people, after the government said it wants to boost telecommunications coverage to as much as 80 percent of the population by 2016. Billionaire George Soros has also joined with Digicel Group Ltd. and property developer Serge Pun to bid for the licenses, the trio said in a separate statement today.
“Myanmar will be an important new market for the global mobile industry,” Vodafone and China Mobile said in their statement. “The licensing round is also an opportunity to accelerate the pace of Myanmar’s social and economic development.”
Myanmar’s economy is expected to grow 6.2 percent this year, up from an anticipated 5.5 percent increase in 2012, according to an October World Bank report. The government said in February that 91 companies had formally expressed interest in the two licenses.