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Vodafone, China Mobile Withdraw Bid for Myanmar Telecom Licenses

Vodafone Group Plc and China Mobile Ltd., the two biggest mobile-phone companies, have withdrawn their joint bid for one of the two licenses offered in Myanmar after deciding the returns don’t justify the investments.

The group, one of 12 shortlisted to bid for the rights to build and operate a nationwide network for 15 years, won’t submit a final offer because the commitment doesn’t meet the companies’ “strict internal investment criteria,” Vodafone and China Mobile said in a joint statement today.

Investors are circling newly opened Myanmar, which has less than 10 percent wireless 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. Myanmar’s economy is projected 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 other shortlisted companies or groups are Airtel Consortium; Axiata Group; Digicel; France Telecom-Orange and Marubeni; KDDI, Sumitomo, Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Development Corp. and A1 Construction; Millicom International Cellular; MTN Consortium; Qatar Telecom; Singtel, KBZ and Myanmar Telephone Co; Telenor; Viettel Group.

Final bids are due June 3 and the the government plans to announce the two winners June 27.

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