South Korean steelmaker POSCO defends Myanmar gas business

FILE PHOTO: The logo of POSCO is seen at the company's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, July 20, 2016. Picture taken on July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean steelmaker POSCO said on Monday it does not believe its unit POSCO International’s gas projects in Myanmar have a direct link to the military which seized power there in February.

The unit’s gas business had existed for about 20 years, persisting through regime change, and related payments were paid to the Myanmar finance ministry, POSCO said in an earnings call in reply to an analyst’s query about whether its business interests in Myanmar could concern foreign investors.

About 20% of the Myanmar gas business was used for local consumption including electricity production, contributing to the lives of ordinary people, it added.

Myanmar’s finance ministry has been under the control the military since the generals seized power and began a bloody crackdown on supporters of democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Another POSCO unit in Myanmar which mainly makes sheet metal for residential and factory roofing, POSCO C&C, said earlier this month it would end a joint venture with Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Co Ltd (MEHL), a firm controlled by the military.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Kim Coghill and Stephen Coates