Tuesday, 4 March 2014

MGS buys lion’s share of Myanmar Times

The Myanmar Golden Star (MGS) Company, with close ties to the government, have bought a 51 percent stake of The Myanmar Times on February 28.

MGS is owned by “Pepsi” Thein Htun who runs numerous businesses with government support, and his family members bought the stake from Dr Tin Tun Oo who previously owned it.

“They bought the whole 51 percent stake from us. It’s been long time since we talked about it. They paid cash payment in full for the stake just yesterday. I heard they also bought another half of the Myanmar Times stake owned by foreigners,” said Dr Khin Moe Moe, the wife of Dr Tin Tun Oo.

Dr Khin Moe Moe refused to disclose how much money was paid for the stake, and “Pepsi” Thein Htun was unavailable to discuss the deal.

The Myanmar Times is published bilingually in Myanmar and English as a weekly by Myanmar Consolidated Media Company, jointly owned by Dr Tin Tun Oo and Ross Dunkley.

Dr Tin Tun Oo, a local publisher of “Pyi Myanmar” weekly and other publications received the 51 percent stake in late 2005 from Sanny Swe, a co-founder of the MT, who was then imprisoned. Sanny Swe is currently the chief executive officer of the Mizzima newspaper.

“Pepsi” Thein Htun is the chairman of MGS and also the founder of Tun Foundation Bank. His son-in-law Aung Moe Kyaw, close to President Thein Sein, is the owner of IBTC Company which produces Grand Royal alcoholic drinks.

A large share of Myanmar’s beverage market is currently owned by the two companies MGS and IBTC. They are also official partners of Carlsberg, Heineken and Beer Chang and licenced to sell foreign brands in Myanmar.

“Pepsi” Thein Htun is also the chairman of a total of 13 local companies, running different types of businesses in the country.

Many business moguls are throwing money into Myanmar’s print media business. One of the first local investors was Thein Wai (aka) Serge Pun, chairman of Yoma Bank and FMI Company joining hands with Sanny Swe, made a recent investment in Mizzima.

Thein Wai previously close to General Khin Nyunt, the former military intelligence chief, also runs numerous businesses in the country.

Yoma Bank suspended almost all its banking services in 2002-03, with its remittance service allowed to continue as the only service that survived. His company is allowed again to extend business only during the Thein Sein administration.

Another newcomer is Shwe Than Lwin “Sky Net” Company which also runs several businesses in close ties with the government, and it’s reportedly a shareholder of Democracy Today, a fresh newspaper which was launched on March 1.

Ko Ko, the chief executive officer of Democracy Today said the newspaper is independently published with a bank loan of Ks 1 billion, not in any business ties with other business groups and organisations.

The multi-business moguls are not only in the local print media, but also in some “exiled” media.

source: Eleven Myanmar
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