France Telecom (FT) is in the running to buy a minority stake in Mobitel, one of the brands of Cambodian mobile operator CamGSM, Reuters reports, citing a French embassy official in Cambodia. The move forms part of FT’s strategy to expand in emerging markets. ‘FT has at least one competing bidder in its effort to acquire a stake in Mobitel… they are in the final process, but now it is up to Mobitel to choose a partner,’ said a high-ranking official at the embassy. CommsUpdate reported last week that PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom) entered into talks to acquire a majority stake in CamGSM, in a deal that could be worth over USD500 million.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, CamGSM was established in April 1996 as a joint venture between Luxembourg’s Millicom International Cellular (MIC, 58.4%) and the Royal Group of Cambodia (41.6%). The same month it was awarded a 25-year (extended to 35 years in 1999) GSM-900 licence and services were launched in March 1997 under the Mobitel banner. As part of a wider strategy to divest its operations in the Asian market, MIC sold its stake in CamGSM to the Royal Group in August 2009 for USD346 million in cash, raising its local partner’s shareholding to 100%.