Global telcos vie for stake in Vietnam’s MobiFone

Several European and Asian carriers are in the race to pick up a minority strategic stake in Vietnam’s second largest mobile operator MobiFone before its proposed listing in 2015, a banker tracking the development, and declined to be named, said.

Norway’s Telenor ASA , which recently began rolling out mobile phone services in Myanmar and has operations in Thailand, Pakistan and India as well as Sweden’s Comviq, which had expressed interest in buying ModiFone in 2007, when the proposal for listing the Vietnamese telco had first come up, are among the handful of cellular firms that are set to submit bids, the executive quoted above said.

Most of the mobile phone companies that had lost the bid to secure a mobile permit in Myanmar, last year, are also evaluating the option of a strategic investment in MobiFone prior to its float, the banker added.

Last year, the Myanmar government had announced that Telenor ASA (TEL) and Quarter’s OOredoo QSC (QTEL) had been awarded mobile permits to launch operations in the country that was among the last frontiers for cellular penetration.

The cellular companies that lost out in Myanmar include, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd, a firm related to France Telecom, an entity owned by billionaire George Soros, South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd, Japan’s KDDI Corp and Digicel Group Ltd.

While DEALSTREETASIA is yet to get an independent confirmation from any of the mobile phone companies, the executive quoted above believes that it would be a logical progression for the bidders (who tried to win Myanmar mobile licenses) to take part in Mobifone’s proposed sale.

Meanwhile, the local media in Vietnam has reported that executives of several international carriers are on the ground there, monitoring the government’s plans to list MobiFone. MobiFone competes with military-run Viettel, which is the country’s largest mobile operator.

Reports from Vietnam further add that Telenor’s senior vice president in Asia Arne Kjetil Lian had met officials in the ministry of communications last month to indicate the Norwegian telco’s interest in a strategic partnership with MobiPhone.

Ditto with executives from Sweden’s Comviq International, who had also met the officials from the communication ministry on this issue recently. But for the Asian financial crisis, MobiFone would have been listed in 2007. Vietnam is looking to offload a 49% in MobiFone to stake to strategic partner.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.