Telenor executives "requested" not to leave Myanmar - junta minister

Oct 19 (Reuters) - Myanmar’s military rulers have asked executives from Norwegian telecom firm Telenor not to leave the country pending regulatory approval of the company’s deal to sell its operations there, a junta minister said on Tuesday.

Aung Naing Oo, the military’s investment minister, told Reuters authorities wanted “to have discussions physically with some of the Telenor management”.

“It’s kind of a request not to leave the country,” he said.

The minister was responding to a question whether foreign telecom officials were being prevented from leaving the country. Reuters reported here in July that senior executives at major telecommunications firms in Myanmar had been put under an exit ban by the junta unless they received special authorisation to leave the country.

Aung Naing Oo said that the move only applied to Telenor, “not to foreign telecoms officials from all foreign telecom companies,” because the junta “want to have discussions physically with some of the management in Telenor” about the deal.

Telenor, one of the biggest foreign investors in Myanmar, announced in July it was selling its Myanmar operations to Lebanese investment firm M1 Group for $105 million.

Telenor on Tuesday declined to respond to the minister’s words.

“Due to safety concerns for individual employees we are unable to comment,” it said, adding. “Telenor has an agreement with M1 which is awaiting regulatory approval.” (Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)