Telstra keen to invest in Vietnam’s Mobifone

Australian market leader Telstra has reportedly expressed an interest in re-entering Vietnam via an investment in Vietnamese number two Mobifone.

Telstra pulled out of Vietnam in 2003 after investing around $240 million into a joint venture with the Vietnam Post and Communications Group, but could now take a stake in Mobifone following a discussion between Telstra’s current international COO Han Kotterman and Vietnam’s Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan.

Mobifone split from fellow state-owned operator VNPT in June 2014, and the Ministry of Information and Communications has been aiming to privatise it for over a year. The operator was ordered to provide a plan for an IPO by the end of 2014 but the privatisation plan has been consistently delayed.

Currently Vietnam’s government is looking to privatise several state-owned businesses like Mobifone, with foreign investors able to acquire a stake of up to 49% in the operator after the planned IPO. Telstra is not alone in its interest in Mobifone; Axiata, Telenor and Comvik International Vietnam have all indicated interest in acquiring a controlling stake.

A previous IPO scheduled in 2006 was eventually abandoned, but this too drew substantial interest from significant players include Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom (Orange), Singtel and Vodafone.

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