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Korean steelmaker Posco reviewing to cut ties with Myanmar's junta Updated: 2021-04-06 17:12:46 KST

Dozens of protesters gathered by the Total building in the La Defense business district in Paris last week to denounce the oil-and-gas giant's continuing operations in Myanmar which they say contribute to the financing of the junta.

"We want to call on Total to listen to the voices of the Myanmar people and stop all support to the junta, notably by blocking its financing of the junta. Total really has to act and take example from other companies like Woodside Energy which decided to suspend a part of its operations in Myanmar."

The French energy group has yet dropped its business in Myanmar despite growing calls from worldwide, but South Korea's steelmaker POSCO has reportedly begun reviewing ways to end a joint venture with a firm controlled by the military in Myanmar in the wake of a deadly coup there.

Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the matter, Reuters reports the Korean parent's POSCO C&C arm is looking into either selling 70-percent of its stake in the venture with Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, or MEHL, OR buying out the partner's stake which is not clear at the moment how much the 30-percent holding may be worth.

It comes amid increasing criticism from shareholders and rights activists on international businesses still operating partnerships in Myanmar AND the U.S. and the UK slapping sanctions on Myanmar military entities including MEHL.

Firms like Australia's Woodside Petroleum and Japan's Kirin Holdings have already pulled the plug from Myanmar.

But people with knowledge of the matter say POSCO is wary of an abrupt exit because it could potentially jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars earned by an affiliate, Posco International, from the more lucrative gas projects operated jointly with another Myanmar state firm.

"There is no proper exit strategy at the moment and I guess companies are likely to close down the business. But still, the best option for now would be to lay the ground for future access to the market regardless of who will take the power."

The profits POSCO makes from the Myanmar steel business roughly 1.8 million U.S. dollars last year are dwarfed by earnings from Myanmar gas projects - with about two-thirds of the operating profit at Posco International coming from latter at 265.5 million dollars.
Kim Sung-min, Arirang News
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