Telenor Group of Norway and Sweden’s Comvik International have both expressed an interest in investing in MobiFone when the Vietnamese mobile operator undergoes privatisation, according to Vietnam Investment Review. Arne Kjetil Lian, Telenor’s senior vice-president of Group Strategy & Portfolio Development, told leaders at the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) that the company wanted to acquire a stake in Vietnam’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, while M. A. Zaman, president and CEO of Comvik International Vietnam, is also seeking to become a strategic partner in MobiFone. Le Nam Tra, MobiFone’s general director, said that ‘negotiations are ongoing’ with potential investors and noted that the cellco will take a number of factors into consideration, including financial capacity, technology, skills and governance experience.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that under a ten-year business cooperation contract (BCC) agreed in 1995, Comvik held a 45% stake in MobiFone (with state-run national PTO Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Corporation [VNPT] holding the remainder) until ownership passed back to the state in May 2005. As the owner of third-largest cellco Vinaphone, VNPT has been ordered to reorganise its operations under new legislation that states that a company or individual cannot hold over 20% of the shares in more than one telecoms operator. As a result, MobiFone was separated from VNPT in July and put under the management of the MIC, ahead of a sale of shares in the cellco scheduled for completion in 2015.