HA NOI — Russian-based international operator VimpelCom has agreed to sell its 49 per cent stake in the Beeline brand to its partner Gtel Transmit and Infrastructure Service One Member Company Limited, making Gtel a wholly locally owned firm.
Under the deal, Gtel Company would pay around US$45 million for the buyback after a year-long negotiation and not use the Beeline trademark within six months of the transfer. The mobile service provider would launch a brand to replace Beeline.
Nguyen The Du, Gtel's deputy general director, said the transfer would not affect the company's operation or customers' rights.
"The buyback was under the VimpelCom's development strategy worldwide to suspend its operation in several countries and territories and focus on key markets," Du said, adding that VimpelCom was committed to support Gtel in transferring brand management.
He said the transfer would be a good opportunity for Gtel as they has still seen potentials in Viet Nam's telecom market while Beeline had built a considerable foundation which would be valuable to telecom providers.
"Beeline's results with a positive response from users would create a competitive advantage for Gtel in parallel with its knowledge of the domestic market," he said. "Gtel always puts customers' rights at the top of our business strategy."
In late July of 2009, Gtel Mobile, a joint venture between Gtel and VimpelCom, officially announced the launch of Beeline, the seventh telecommunications provider in Viet Nam.
The first foreign-invested telecom network is well-known for its big promotional campaigns. The most notable was the "billionaire" package which allowed subscribers to make free phone calls within the network. The package put VND1 billion ($47,900) into subscribers' account.
VimpelCom is a leading telecommunication services provider in Eastern Europe and Middle Asia. In Southeast Asia, the group has established a foothold in Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam. It increased its holding in Gtel Mobile from 40 to 49 per cent at a cost of $196 million last year. At that time, it said it planned to invest $500 million more in the Beeline network by the end of 2013.
According to the latest statistics by Wireless Intelligence Data, Gtel Mobile had 3.8 million mobile subscribers in Viet Nam in the first quarter of this year, accounting for a 3 per cent share in the mobile market.— VNS