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Microsoft Establishes Presence in Myanmar

Technology giant Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Thursday established a presence in Myanmar for the first time, forming an exclusive partnership with local firm Myanmar Information Technology as the central supplier for all of its products in the emerging market.

The move represents the "first step" in Microsoft's plans for the market, with the company focusing on distributing its products rather than any manufacturing operations, Jamie Harper, president for new markets in Southeast Asia at Microsoft, said in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia.

"All infrastructure in the country depends on computing power," said Mr. Harper, who sees most opportunities for Microsoft in Myanmar's large government sector and in business-to-business operations.

Myanmar offers rare growth opportunities for information technology firms, with an internet penetration of just 0.4% in the country of 60 million. The government has pledged to open up the sector to foreign investments, including offering two telecommunications licenses, and aims to bump internet penetration up to 80% in the next few years. Bidders for the telecom-license tender include Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (Z74.SG) and Bharti Airtel Ltd. of India (532454.BY), with license winners expected by June 27.

Mr. Harper declined to comment on specific investments in Myanmar, but said that its partner, Myanmar Information Technology -- which set up the first ATMs in the country last year -- has "the resources of Microsoft behind it".

The American technology company also has its eye on other emerging markets in the region, particularly tiny Laos, where it doesn't currently have a formal presence.

"We don't have the same relationship [in Laos that] we have here in Myanmar, but we are very interested in doing something like that there," Mr. Harper said.

Write to Shibani Mahtani at shibani.mahtani@wsj.com and Natasha Brereton-Fukui at natasha.brereton@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

Copyright © 2013 Dow Jones Newswires

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Posted by hnm on Friday, June 07, 2013. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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