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Digicel-Soros Consortium Promises $9 Billion Myanmar Investment

A consortium lead by Digicel Group Ltd, billionaire George Soros and Myanmar property developer YSH Finance Ltd promised to invest $9 billion in Myanmar’s new mobile-phone network if it’s granted a license.

The companies will roll out a high-speed, fourth-generation mobile-phone network across the country by Dec. 1, and its wireless service will reach 96 percent of Myanmar’s population by 2016, the group said in a statement today.

The group is one of 12 that made it onto a shortlist to bid for the rights to two licenses that will allow carriers to build and operate a nationwide wireless network in the Asian country for 15 years. The government plans to announce the two winning bids on June 27.

The other shortlisted companies or groups are Airtel Consortium; Axiata Group; 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; and Viettel Group.

Vodafone Group Plc and China Mobile Ltd., the two biggest mobile-phone companies, withdrew their bid on May 31, saying the returns wouldn’t justify the investment required.

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