Russian telecom giant withdraws from Vietnam

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Russia's VimpelCom has signed an agreement to sell its entire 49 percent stake in GTEL Mobile, the operator of Beeline mobile network in Vietnam, saying the disposal is part of its efforts to restructure investment.

The stake will be sold to GTEL Transmit and Infrastructure Service, a subsidiary of GTEL Corporation, which is VimpelCom's partner in Vietnam.

The stake is valued at US$45 million. GTEL Mobile will discontinue the use of the Beeline trademark after a six-month transition period, the Russian telecom company said in a statement.

"We have previously outlined our Value Agenda, within which all of our operations are reviewed to assess their future value to the group," said Jo Lunder, Chief Executive Officer of VimpelCom.

"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," he said.

A representative from GTEL told Vietweek that the transition will not affect customers.

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Beeline, which launched its service in Vietnam in July 2007, is a small telecom company in a market dominated by three state-owned operators, VinaPhone, MobiFone and Viettel. Together the big three account for 95 percent of total mobile phone subscribers in Vietnam.

News website VnExpress cited industry insiders on Tuesday as saying that Beeline, like other small networks in Vietnam, could not compete against the larger companies. The report also said the average revenue per user of Beeline in Vietnam was $0.90 in the last quarter of 2011, the lowest among all VimpelCom's markets.

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