Russia’s second largest cellco by subscribers, Vimpelcom, has said it is setting up a new mobile services joint venture in Vietnam and will invest up to USD1 billion in a new GSM network. The other participants in the joint venture are said to be the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam and US-based Millennium Global Solutions Group. In line with Vietnamese law, the Russian cellco said that it will only hold minority rights in the operation, dubbed GTel Mobile, but it will be entitled to a ‘majority of profits’ under the deal. ‘We are very excited about this transaction, our first expansion outside of Russia and the CIS,’ said CEO Alexander Izosimov, adding, ‘Vietnam is a very attractive market, with a growing population of approximately 85 million people and mobile penetration of approximately 32%. The country has joined the WTO and the economy is developing rapidly. Overall we view this as a great growth opportunity for Vimpelcom and its shareholders.’ Vimpelcom which operates under the Beeline brand and is owned by Russia’s Alfa Group and Norway’s Telenor, is looking to diversify as the mobile markets in Russia and Ukraine approach saturation.