Foreign telecom firms interested in Mobifone's long-awaited privatisation

Bizhub | Fri, Jun 3, 2016 09:25:58 AM Share this on

Foreign telecommunications giants are showing interest in acquiring stakes of Mobifone when the mobile phone service provider goes public this year.

These include Norway's Telenor, Sweden's Comviq and Australia's Telstra, Vneconomy reported.

The privatisation of Mobifone, the second-largest mobile phone service operator in Viet Nam, with a brand valued at US$539 million by UK-based Brand Finance, was long awaited as the privatisation plan had been delayed several times since 2005.

The privatisation of Mobifone will gear up in 2016-17 as the Government of Viet Nam hastens the privatisation of State-owned enterprises.

Among the foreign firms eyeing Mobifone's stake sale, Telstra, Australia's leading telecommunications and information services company, was seen to be active recently.

As preparations for Mobifone's privatisation resumed strongly over the past year, Telstra signaled its desire to return to Viet Nam's telecommunications market and become a strategic stakeholder of Mobifone.

Previously, Telstra had participated in Viet Nam's telecommunications market through a business cooperation contract with the Viet Nam Post and Communications Group, with an estimated investment of $240 million, according to Vneconomy. However, it left the Vietnamese market in 2003.

Han Kotterman, Telstra's international chief operating officer, said at the meeting between Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan and Deputy Head of the Mission of the Australian Embassy Layton Pike, held late in May, that Telstra wanted the opportunity to join the privatisation of Viet Nam's telecommunications enterprises, the newspaper reported.

He proposed the stake held by foreign investors should be increased, adding that higher stakes would promote accountability and mutual cooperation.

He also said Telstra aimed to participate in the privatisation of Mobifone.

Telenor and Mobifone's former partner Comviq were also reported to have an interest in Mobifone.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Pham Hong Hai said at the Mobifone meeting in April that the evaluation of the company was underway and the proposal to the government would serve as the basis for completing the privatisation plan.

Mobifone sought to divest from SeABank and TPBank in April. It raised VND77 billion ($3.4 million) from selling more than 8 million shares out of its holding of nearly 14.3 million shares of TPBank while the SeABank shares sale was cancelled due to no registered bid.

Theoretically, foreign investors can hold a maximum 49 per cent stake in a public company, according to the Government's Decree 60/2015/ND-CP, issued in June 2015. — VNS

Source: Bizhub