Singapore Telecommunications Limited (Singtel) has expressed interest in buying shares of MobiFone Telecommunications Corporation (MobiFone) when the Vietnamese telecommunications giant launches an initial public offering (IPO), Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Telecommunications said in a statement on August 19.
The ministry supports Singtel’s intention and asked the Singaporean company to work directly with the Vietnamese partner to discuss their cooperation, vice minister Pham Hong Hai said during a meeting with Singtel’s Vice President for Business Development Oliver Foo in Hanoi.
Earlier this month, Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) proposed that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc allow it own 20% stake in MobiFone after IPO.
The prime minister said MobiFone’s IPO scheme would be submitted for his approval, without providing a time frame.
Severing ties with state-run VNPT in 2014 and now operating under the Ministry of Information and Communications, MobiFone posted revenue of around VND36.9 trillion (US$1.62 billion) in 2015, up 8.29% year-on-year.
In a surprise move, the Vietnamese government on August 1 ordered an across-the-board inspection into the acquisition of a private operator by MobiFone earlier this year.
Last January, MobiFone broke into the pay TV market with the acquisition of a 95% stake in Audio Visual Global JSC, better known as AVG.
In a directive, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh ordered the Government Inspectorate and relevant agencies to launch an investigation into the acquisition, saying any sign of violations would be subject to further criminal probes.
Rumors have been circulated that MobiFone had paid a "huge" price, much higher than the estimated figures.
Singtel provides a diverse range of services including fixed, mobile, data, internet, TV, infocomms technology (ICT) and digital solutions. It is one of the largest listed Singapore companies on the Singapore Exchange by market capitalization.
Singtel has a network of offices throughout Asia Pacific, Europe and the US, and employs more than 23,000 people worldwide, according to the Singaporean company’s website.
It has set up Optus, an integrated telecommunications subsidiary in Australia and has strategically invested in leading companies in Asia and Africa, including Bharti Airtel (India, South Asia and Africa), Telkomsel (Indonesia), Globe Telecom (the Philippines) and Advanced Info Service (Thailand).