Telco giant retrieves money from failed pay TV investment deal

Vietnam's state-run MobiFone Telecommunications Corporation has been refunded VND2.5 trillion ($110 million) after a deal to buy a private pay TV firm fell through, according to the information ministry.

Shareholders of Audio Visual Global JSC. (AVG) have returned over a quarter of the VND8.9 trillion MobiFone spent on buying a 95% stake in the company. The remaining amount will be returned within 90 days of the cancellation of the deal, according to AVG.

telco giant retrieves money from failed pay tv investment deal hinh 0
MobiFone logo in front of a building. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

"The transaction will be completed within 90 days at the latest. The ministry has instructed MobiFone to handle this case actively," deputy information minister Hoang Vinh Bao said at a press conference on April 1.

MobiFone and AVG agreed to cancel the deal at a meeting on March 12. 

In early 2016, MobiFone captured public attention by announcing it was breaking into the pay TV market through the acquisition of a 95% stake in AVG, without revealing any information about the deal.

Due to the size of the deal, the government ordered an across-the-board inspection in August 2016, which prevented it from going through.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh subsequently directed the Government Inspectorate and relevant agencies to start the investigation, saying any violations would be subject to a criminal probe.

The findings of the investigation were only released last month following instructions from the Communist Party.

In the report, the Government Inspectorate concluded that MobiFone's deal to acquire AVG had caused a loss of about VND7 trillion to the state. Multiple ministries, including the information ministry, were also found responsible for a number of wrongdoings relating to the deal.

MobiFone's acquisition of AVG was expected to help it rival other giants Viettel and VNPT, both already present in the pay TV market.

The company had set a target of luring one million customers to its television service in 2016, and becoming one of the three biggest pay TV providers in Vietnam by 2020.


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