France Telecom (FT) has reiterated a desire to purchase shares in Vietnam’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, MobiFone, when the cellco undergoes privatisation. According to a report by Vietnam Business News, which cites Charles Kennaway, Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) general director of Regional Orange Business Services, the French company has pursued a stake in MobiFone for the past four years, and although the privatisation of MobiFone has been slower than anticipated, FT is still interested. In the meantime, FT will reportedly continue to enter long-term cooperation agreements with MobiFone’s state-owned parent Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Corporation (VNPT). FT recently announced a deal between Orange Business Services and VNPT unit Joint Stock Company for Telecom and Informatics (CT-IN) to provide IT and telecoms system management services in Vietnam. The services will be provided over a next generation network (NGN) and are scheduled for launch in Q1 2011.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, it was revealed in June 2008 that a 15% stake in MobiFone would be sold to a strategic investor and 15% to the public via an initial public offering (IPO). A further 19% may be sold after the IPO, reducing VNPT’s stake to 51%. In August 2008 MobiFone hired Credit Suisse Group to act as financial adviser for an IPO, which later valued the operator at around USD2 billion. Nothing more was heard on the matter until early this year, when the company announced it was ‘quickly preparing for the privatisation process’ in an attempt to improve competitiveness.