Vietnam’s second largest operator Mobifone, which has been slated for privatisation for more than a year, has attracted interest from Australia’s largest operator Telstra, VNeconomy reported.
Han Kotterman, Telstra’s international COO, met with Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan last month and expressed interest in re-entering the Vietnam market as a stakeholder, according to the newspaper. Telstra, which previously invested about $240 million in a venture with the Vietnam Post and Communications Group, left the market in 2003.
Mobifone operates under the Ministry of Information and Communications, after separating from VNPT, another state-owned operator, in June 2014. It was required to submit an IPO plan by the end of 2014, but its long-awaited privatisation plans have stalled.
The government is now pushing to privatise a number of state-owned enterprises, including Mobifone. A foreign investor can take up to a 49 per cent stake in Mobifone when it goes public.
Telstra joins a number of regional players that are keen to move into Vietnam. Axiata expressed interest in taking a stake in Mobifone in January 2015, a few months after Norway’s Telenor and Comvik International Vietnam, which previously partnered with Mobifone, informed the ministry of their interests in taking a controlling stake.
A plan for an IPO in 2006 was ditched but not before it had attracted widespread interest from the likes of Singtel, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom (now Orange) and Vodafone.
In April Mobifone raised $3.5 million from selling part of its stake in TPBank but was unable to divest its interest in SeABank because no one submitted a bid, Vietnam.net reported.