SKT cedes control of S-Fone

Nicole McCormick
telecomasia.net
SK Telecom has handed over control of Vietnam CDMA operator S-Fone to local partner Saigon Postel.
 
S-Fone managing director Ho Hong Son said Saigon Postel had taken control of the new joint venture that now operates S-Fone. 
 
Previously, S-Fone operated under a Business Co-operation Contract (BCC) between Singapore-incorporated firm SLD, which was 73%-owned by SKT, and Saigon Postel.
 
That BCC lapsed on March 20 and has been replaced by a joint venture arrangement controlled by Saigon Postel.
 
Son said that Saigon Postel would return the capital invested by SKT in S-Fone by the end of 2011, reducing the Korean partner’s stake to a minority interest.
 
The seven-year-old operator has a paltry 7 million CDMA subscribers, and is dwarfed by GSM rivals Viettel, MobiFone and VinaPhone.
 
The venture has been hampered by the high cost of CDMA handsets, which is one of the reasons why Hutchison recently shut down its CDMA venture in Vietnam, replacing it with a GSM service.
 
For SKT, this is yet another misstep in its international strategy, having sold out of earlier unsuccessful investments in China Unicom and US MVNO Helio.
 
The operator has sidelined its global M&A ambitions, preferring to focus on new data revenue drivers in its home market.

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