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Unilever thinks Myanmar could be the next Vietnam, announces joint venture

John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

Unilever is entering a joint venture with Europe & Asia Commercial (EAC) Ltd. in Myanmar in an effort to hedge a bigger foothold in the country, which boasts a population of approximately 54 million. The joint venture, which combines entities with combined annual sales of more than €100 million, will include manufacturing, marketing and distribution of home and personal care products in Myanmar.

"Myanmar is one of the fastest growing and most promising markets in Southeast Asia," Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Unilever's president of Southeast Asia and Australiasia, told CNBC. "The combination of a growing economy, increased political stability and strong demographics make Myanmar a strong market opportunity for the long term," he said.

Unilever Myanmar and Europe & Asia Commercial Company (EAC) Ltd will combine their respective Home & Personal Care businesses to form a joint group, called Unilever EAC Myanmar Company Limited,

Myanmar's economy has witnessed growth of between 6 percent to 8 percent over the past few years,

But the nation has a long way to go in becoming a developed market. According to the World Bank, just one-third of the population has access to the electricity grid and a majority still do not have access to bank accounts.

Still, the consumer products company sees potential.

"For companies like Unilever, Myanmar could be the next Vietnam," Sigismondi said.

Unilever recently turned down a takeover approach from U.S. rival Kraft Heinz, prompting analysts to speculate whether Unilever could fracture into two separate companies. Its Chief Executive Paul Polman told CNBC, however, a move would only harm the company's value creation.

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