Viettel, VNPT plan overseas expansion

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Vietnam 's telecom giants Viettel and VNPT both have ambitious plans for 2012, targeting overseas expansion because the domestic market is no longer big enough, the Dau Tu (Investment) newspaper reported Wednesday.

Vietnam's market is large, but it's now like a shirt that is already too tight, said Nguyen Manh Hung, deputy CEO of the military-run Viettel.

The company needs a larger customer base so that it can invest more in new technologies and production, he told Dau Tu.

"Some say it's necessary to have the technology, money and human resources, but for Viettel, a market is what's needed first and foremost. Here we are talking about a market with six billion people, not just the Vietnamese market of 86 million," Hung said.

The company, which has established a presence in Cambodia, Haiti, Laos, Mozambique and Peru, plans to expand to three or four new markets this year, aiming to double its phone subscribers overseas to 200 million. It is outlining a plan to invest US$270 million in Mali, a West African country, Dau Tu reported, citing an unidentified source.

Viettel is targeting a total customer base of 600 million by 2015, including 500 million subscribers in foreign markets.

It posted pre-tax profits of nearly $1 billion last year.

State-owned Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group, often known as VNPT, said it will also expand overseas but in a "cautious" manner.

Its overseas investment arm, VNPT Global, is now operating in the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Czech Republic. The unit is expected to be transferred to MobiFone, VNPT's top earner.

MobiFone officials said that under the current economic conditions, it's not easy to expand. However, future plans have to focus a lot on overseas markets, because they cannot stop with the domestic market, they said.

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