YANGON—Yoma Strategic Holdings, headed by Chinese-Myanmar tycoon Serge Pun, will acquire Telenor Group’s 51-percent stake worth US$76.5 million (105.99 billion kyats) in Myanmar’s leading mobile money company, Wave Money.
Yoma Strategic announced the move in a statement on Wednesday.
Wave Money, a joint venture between Telenor Group and Yoma Strategic, runs a network of more than 57,000 agents across 295 out of 330 townships in Myanmar, covering approximately 89 percent of the country.
More than 21 million people have used Wave Money’s services, including Wave Pay, for remittances, utility payments, airtime top-ups and digital payments, according to the company.
Serge Pun’s Yoma Group, listed on stock exchanges in Myanmar and Singapore, operates in automobile manufacturing, financial services, real estate development, technology, construction and health care.
According to the press release, Wave Money is expected to become a subsidiary of Yoma Strategic after the completion of the acquisition of Telenor’s interest. The company said it will establish a new company, Yoma MFS Holdings, to increase its existing shareholding and take a controlling interest in Wave Money.
It said that upon the completion of the transactions, Yoma Strategic will invest up to an additional $25 million in Wave Money and become its largest, controlling shareholder.
The move comes more than a month after China’s Ant Financial Services Group owned by Alibaba Group announced it would invest $73.5 million in Wave Money to upgrade its technological capabilities and security systems.
Melvyn Pun, CEO of Yoma Strategic said, “Wave Money continues to see sustained growth in its agent and digital platforms, with Wave Pay gaining strong traction during the COVID-19 pandemic through the acceleration in and adoption of cashless payment solutions.”
“The investment by Ant Group will further fuel Wave Money’s growth trajectory and will help to create greater value for our shareholders in the longer term,” Melvyn Pun said.
According to the company, last year, Wave Money’s transfer volume in the country more than tripled year-on-year, reaching 6.4 trillion kyats.
Lars Erik Tellmann, head of financial services at Telenor Group, said, “This is an opportune time for Telenor Group to divest. Both Yoma Group and Ant Group’s core operation is financial services and technology and they are therefore the strongest owners to take Wave Money forward.”