Vimpelcom to exit Vietnam

International operator VimpelCom is to exit the Vietnamese mobile market, selling its 49 per cent share of fifth placed mobile operator Gtel Mobile for $45m. VimpelCom, which is headquartered in The Netherlands, said the stake would be bought by GTEL Transmit and Infrastructure, “a related party” of Vimpelcom’s local partner, Gtel.

The Vietnamese operation will be able to use the Beeline brand, which Vimpelcom has rolled out to a number of its operations, for six months before being required to rebrand.

A year ago VimpelCom increased its holding in Gtel Mobile from 40 per cent to 49 per cent at a cost of $196m, and assumed management control of the company. At the time it said a wider financing plan could lead to total investments of £500m in the Vietnamese operation by the end of 2013.

But earlier this year Vimpelcom booked an impairment charge on its Vietnamese investment, signalling a rethink of its commitment to the market.

Jo Lunder, CEO of VimpelCom, commented: “We have previously outlined our Value Agenda, within which all of our operations are reviewed to assess their future value to the Group. The decision to dispose of our interest in GTEL Mobile is a result of this process, which focuses on allocating capital to those markets where we see the best opportunities to generate shareholder value.”

Vietnamese mobile subscriptions by operator, Q4 2011

Viettel Vietnam 41,386,030
Mobifone 32,500,000
Vinaphone 28,300,000
Hutchison Vietnam 11,000,000
GTEL Mobile 2,957,000
S-fone 1,513,970
EVN Telecom 1,000,000
Total 118,657,000

Source: Informa’s WCIS Plus

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