Saigon Postel becomes S-Fone's major stakeholder

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Local telecom firm Saigon Postel said Thursday it has taken over wireless carrier S-Fone, becoming the major shareholder in the joint venture with South Korea's SK Telecom.

S-Fone, formed by the two companies in 2001 under a "business cooperation contract" model, will begin transforming itself into a joint venture this month, said Ho Hong Son, managing director of the network.

SK Telecom will have its capital investment refunded and will hold only a minority stake in S-Fone, he said.

"The controlling stake will belong to Saigon Postel and thus the company will have the right to make all investment, business and operation decisions," Son said.

S-Fone has only around 7 million subscribers, much smaller than the figures of Vietnam's major wireless carriers Viettel, VinaPhone and MobiFone. The company said Thursday it will change its business strategies and expand coverage to attract more customers.

South Korean analysts said late last year that SK Telecom, which controls over 50 percent of the country's telecom market, was hit by a series of failures in its overseas businesses and had to realign its investment strategy.

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