A number of international telecoms companies have reportedly expressed an interest in acquiring shares in MobiFone when the Vietnamese mobile operator finally undergoes privatisation. VnEconomy cites an unnamed MobiFone representative as saying that Norwegian telecoms group Telenor, Sweden’s Comviq and Telstra of Australia have each indicated they are interested in becoming a strategic partner in the cellco, which is the market’s second largest by subscribers behind Viettel. The long-delayed privatisation of MobiFone has been on the government’s agenda for more than a decade, but the process is expected to take a step forward later this year. While it has not yet been revealed how many shares in MobiFone the government eventually plans to sell, Vietnamese law permits foreigner investors to own up to a 49% stake in local companies.
MobiFone was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications (VNPT) until July 2014, at which date the cellco was spun off from state-run national PTO and put under the management of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), with a view to undergoing privatisation at a later date. On 1 December 2014 MobiFone was officially transformed into a corporation, with its legal name formally changed from Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services (VMS) to Vietnam Telecommunications Corporation, a ‘one member limited company’ in which the state holds 100% of the charter capital.