Singtel eyes stake in Vietnam’s MobiFone

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Fisherman on Truc Bach Lake sail near a MobiFone sign in Hanoi in a file photo. Photo credit: Jeff Holt/Bloomberg Fisherman on Truc Bach Lake sail near a MobiFone sign in Hanoi in a file photo. Photo credit: Jeff Holt/Bloomberg

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Singapore Telecommunications, better known as Singtel, has expressed interest in becoming a strategic partner with Vietnam's telecom giant MobiFone as the state-owned firm is opening up to private investors.
SingTel’s Vice President for Business Development Oliver Foo met with Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Pham Hong Hai in Hanoi on Friday to discuss the investment intent, according to the ministry’s website.
Earlier, Australia's biggest telecom company Telstra, Swedish mobile network operator Comviq and Norwegian operator Telenor had reportedly met with the ministry, looking to buy into MobiFone.
In the meantime, the Vietnamese company's share sale plan remains unclear.
In its April report, UK-based intangible asset valuation consultancy Brand Finance estimated MobiFone's brand value at US$539 million, up 76 percent from last year.
Together with state-owned VinaPhone and military-run Viettel, MobiFone controls a majority of Vietnam's telecom market, which boasted more than 120.3 million mobile subscribers at the end of last year.
In related news, Singtel is buying 21 percent of Thai telecoms firm Intouch Holdings for $1.19 billion and 7.39 percent of India's Bharti Telecom for $659 million as Southeast Asia's largest telecoms firm raises its bet on emerging markets to spur growth, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Thursday.
The stakes are being bought from Singapore state investor Temasek, which owns more than half of Singtel, according to the report.

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