Vietnam's telco giant MobiFone to divest from banks: report

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People waiting for a bus in front of an advertising billboard of Mobifone in Hanoi. Photo: Reuters People waiting for a bus in front of an advertising billboard of Mobifone in Hanoi. Photo: Reuters

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State-controlled MobiFone, one of Vietnam's top telecommunication companies, will sell its stakes in two partly-private banks to raise at least VND447 billion (US$19.79 million) next month, local media reported on Wednesday.
A total of 33.4 million shares, equivalent to a stake of 6.12 percent in SeABank, will be auctioned on April 25, starting at VND9,600 per share, news website VnExpress said.
That same day MobiFone will also sell 14.28 million shares in TPBank through another auction, starting at VND8,900 per share. The sale will reduce the company's stake to 2.19 percent from 4.76 percent at the moment, according to the news report.
MobiFone's plans for reducing its investment in the financial sector are in line with the government's order for state-owned enterprises to divest from non-core businesses. The order is part of the government's ongoing efforts to restructure the state sector.
Last year the telecom giant also reportedly sold off its stakes in multimedia company Smart Media and technology firm Neo.
However, early this year MobiFone announced that it had acquired a stake of 95 percent in Audio Visual Global JSC, or AVG, a private pay TV provider. Details about the deal have never been revealed.
Severing ties with state-run VNPT in 2014 and now operating under the Ministry of Information and Communications, MobiFone posted a profit of over VND7.39 trillion ($327.44 million) last year, the industry's second biggest after military-run Viettel.
Its revenue grew 8.29 percent year on year to around VND36.9 trillion ($1.62 billion), according to the company's figures.
The government has been talking about plans to sell part of its stake in MobiFone since 2005. Early reports indicated that it would possibly sell a maximum stake of 20 percent to foreign investors.
Over the years that plan's details, including time frame, have been constantly changed.
At the end of last year, the Ministry of Information and Communications reportedly kick-started the privatization plan. It promised to submit the share sale plan to the government for approval soon, saying that the sale will possibly raise around VND20 trillion ($885.57 million), according to local media.
In its October report, the UK-owned intangible asset valuation consultant Brand Finance ranked MobiFone the fourth biggest brand in Vietnam with a value of $306 million.

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