PLDT eyes foreign partner for Myanmar telco bid
MANILA, Philippines - After failing to pre-qualify for the telecom licenses and frequency spectrum that the Myanmar government is auctioning off, Hong Kong-based conglomerate First Pacific group is considering teaming up with other foreign groups for a shot at one of Asia's potentially lucrative markets.
“We are open but there is no active discussions. There’s a list of pre-qualified bidders but we have not decided which one to talk to,” First Pacific chair Manuel V. Pangilinan said at the first quarter financial and operating results press briefing of power arm Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
The group was among the 22 applicants that submitted pre-qualification documents to Myanmar's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MICT) on April 4.
First Pacific participated through its unit, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), which did not have a foreign partner. Pangilinan said his group knew that a foreign partner was crucial for PLDT's bid.
“On our own we cannot, because the requirement of Myanmar is that to prequalify you must have operations that are under your control outside your home base. Our home base is the Philippines. So, we have no investments outside the Philippines. So if we want to enter Myanmar telco market we have to partner with any of the qualified bidders because we can’t do it on our own, neither PLDT nor First Pacific,” explained Pangilinan.
The applicants that made the cut are:
- Airtel Consortium
- Axiata Group Berhad
- France Telecom Orange/ Marubeni
- KDDI Corporation/Sumitomo Corporation/ Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Development Corporation/A1 Construction
- Millicom International Cellular SA
- MTN Consortium
- Qatar Telecom
- Singapore Telecommunications/ KBZ/ Myanmar Telephone Co., Ltd.
- Telenor Mobile Communication AS
- Vettel Group
- Vodafone/ China Mobile
Pre-qualified bidders have until June 3 to submit their formal bids.
According to the Myanmar Communications Ministry, the auction for the telco licenses is meant to increase the Southeast Asian country's tele-density to a range of 75% to 80% by 2016 and make mobile service affordable to the public.
Myanmar's mobile subscriber base stood at 5.44 million, equivalent to a 9% penetration rate. - Rappler.com