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* Daiwa says chosen to lead plan for Myanmar govt IT
* Aims to work with Japan electronics makers on Y30 bln
* Plans joint venture with local software firm
By Antoni Slodkowski
TOKYO, July 23 Daiwa Securities Group
aims to spearhead a $380 million investment in Myanmar to build
an information technology backbone for the government in
partnership with major Japanese tech companies.
The ambitious plan underscores the drive by Japan to stake
out a competitive position in Myanmar, a resource-rich and
infrastructure-poor country of 60 million that began opening its
economy just a year ago after nearly 50 years of army rule.
Daiwa, which has long-standing links in Myanmar and has
already been chosen to help set up a local stock exchange, has
been selected by the central bank to draw up plans for the
computer network and is seeking Japanese government aid to
offset the cost, a Daiwa executive said.
Panasonic Corp., Toshiba Corp., Hitachi
Ltd, NEC Corp. and KDDI have
indicated an interest in joining the project and providing
technology and services, Takashi Fukai, a president of Daiwa
Institute of Research, told Reuters in an interview.
"We're going into Myanmar in a way that is all-Japan," he
said. The companies he named as potential partners declined to
Over the past year, the quasi-civilian government of Myanmar
that took over from the military junta has undertaken ambitious
reforms that convinced both the United States and the European
Union to respond with diplomatic and economic gestures.
In a year of fragile democracy, the government has freed
hundreds of political prisoners, legalized trade unions, signed
peace deals with ethnic rebels, eased censorship, unshackled the
political opposition, reformed its currency and held historic
Daiwa's plan would connect all government ministries in
Myanmar as well as schools and hospitals to a 'cloud' computing
system that it sees as a cheaper and faster alternative to
building traditional server-based systems in a country where the
supply of electricity and network engineers remains scarce.
The 'cloud'-based system was expected to cost about 30
billion yen ($384 million), and start with the central bank's
hubs in the capital Naypyitaw, the country's biggest city,
Yangon, and the second-largest, Mandalay, Fukai said.
STOCK EXCHANGE PROJECT
The investment would bolster Daiwa's strategic position as
the major conduit between Myanmar and Japan, following a deal in
May to develop a new stock exchange for the country. Daiwa and
the Tokyo Stock Exchange are partners in that project.
Fujitsu and NTT Data have also begun a
study of Myanmar's intrabank settlement system funded by the
Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Fukai said revamping the tiny Myanmar securities exchange,
in which Daiwa is a joint venture partner, into a full-blown
trading hub would cost around 2 billion yen.
A stock exchange would help draw foreign investment to
Myanmar and could be up and running by 2015, he said.
Daiwa has approached more than 20 Myanmar companies to list
on the emerging exchange, including a gas company, a mining
firm, and agricultural enterprise, Fukai said.
Using Vietnam as an indicator of Myanmar's likely path,
Fukai said he expected 180 to 300 firms would trade publicly by
2020. If 300 companies were listed, the project would return a
profit of roughly 1 billion yen, he said.
From October, Daiwa also plans to form a joint company with
a local software developer ACE Data Systems to handle its
business in Myanmar. ACE is run by Thein Oo, chairman of the
Myanmar Computer Federation, whose connections have been
instrumental in Daiwa's business growth in the country, Fukai
(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Richard Pullin)