Twelve months after confirming its exit from the Vietnamese market, Vimpelcom has announced the sale of its entire stake in Cambodian mobile operator Sotelco. The Amsterdam-based company said it sold its 90% indirect shareholding to its local partner, Mr. Huot Vanthan, for an undisclosed amount. ‘We have previously outlined our Value Agenda within which our operations are reviewed to assess their future value to the Group,’ commented Jo Lunder, CEO of Vimpelcom, adding: ‘The decision to sell our interest in Cambodia is a result of this process. We are happy that our long term partner in the company now takes control of the business in Cambodia.’ Sotelco’s subscriber base peaked at 1.126 million at 30 June 2012, but six months later had plummeted to 596,774, representing a market share of just 3.4%.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that Vimpelcom acquired a 90% stake in Sotelco from Altimo (the telecoms unit of Russian conglomerate Alfa) for USD28 million in July 2008. Commercial GSM services were introduced in May 2009 under the Beeline brand, but in recent years the cellco has struggled to compete in the country’s intensely competitive mobile market. Vimpelcom booked an impairment of USD527 million related to its operations in Vietnam and Cambodia in the fourth quarter of 2011, after a business plan review led to significant downward growth perspectives for the two operators. After exiting Vietnam in April 2012, Vimpelcom reportedly began preparations to offload its Beeline units in both Cambodia and Laos, and last month the group confirmed that it was in talks with unnamed buyers to sell Sotelco.