Telenor Finds Fresh Prey in Far East

Jon Fredrik Baksaas, Telenor’s chief executive, said that he was actively considering specific investments in Indonesia and the Philippines, and that the company hoped to enter the Vietnamese market when the government privatized mobile telecoms operators.
Last month Baksaas said he was on the acquisition trail in Asia – but it was not clear how advanced he was. An imminent acquisition would put Telenor head-to-head with Vodafone, the British mobile operator. Both are investing in the fast-growing emerging markets of South-east Asia.
Telenor, which is locked in a legal spat with Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group over telecoms holdings in Russia and the Ukraine, is actively considering opportunities in Vietnam as well as in Indonesia and the Philippines – among the few remaining countries with low numbers of mobile phone subscribers.
Both Telenor and Vodafone are seeking to raise their presence in emerging markets to compensate for stagnant growth in its core western European territories.
The British group recently sealed its $10.9bn purchase of a majority stake in Hutchison Essar, increasing its exposure to the fast-growing Indian mobile market, and is now targeting other untapped markets.
These include Vietnam, where mobile phone penetration is only about 18.5% and 800,000 new mobile users are signing up each month.

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