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.