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IT, Media and Telecoms

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is the regulator in the telecoms, information technology and media sector.

While the telecoms sector is open to conditional investment, media is still a restricted area for foreign investors. All investments in the telecoms and media sectors are subject to the in-principal approval of the Prime Minister, and must be in compliance with the timeline for market opening as outlined in Vietnam’s WTO commitments in 2007.

Vietnam has issued six facility-based mobile operation licences for four State owned enterprises, and two business cooperation contracts between State owned operators and foreign operators. The four top mobile operators are State owned enterprises, hold more than 98% of total market share. Recently, the MIC announced a policy to restructure the telecoms market with a maximum of three operators.

Following the merger between Viettel and EVN Telecom, some further mergers may develop in 2013-2015 among existing mobile telecom operators (such as SFone, GMobile, Vinaphone and Mobifone).

The Telecommunications Department has called on the MIC to implement the proposed scheme on mobile number portability starting from 2014. The scheme aims to provide subscribers with more choice of network providers, thus creating a more competitive climate among telecoms companies, while encouraging improved service and customer care standards.

The Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) has completed plans to divest its stakes in Vietnamese mobile operators MobiFone and VinaPhone, which will be submitted to the MIC for approval. The Government’s efforts to reduce VNPT’s dominance in the Vietnamese telecoms industry have been welcomed by many, and it is hoped that the new regulations may accelerate the long-delayed privatisation of MobiFone.

Recent Work

  • Acting for a large global venture capital fund in respect of its acquisition of a strategic equity stake in one of Vietnam’s leading internet services companies.
  • Acting on the establishment of a foreign invested advertising services joint venture company and the termination of existing associate office and licensing arrangements in Vietnam.
  • Advising on a proposed joint venture between a foreign investor and a Vietnamese State owned telecom company, to jointly operate a satellite, including advising on cross-border service provisions, TV broadcasting, and TV payment in Vietnam, as well as the legal structure for effective control of the foreign investor over the joint venture.
  • Advising on the liquidation of a Business Cooperation Contract (BCC) entered into by Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group and a foreign investor.
  • Acting for an infrastructure investment fund and advising on and drafting relevant documentation for a proposed restructuring of a group of telecom companies wishing to employ a cross border share swap structure.
  • Advising in relation to the selection of a strategic partner for a 100% state-owned telecoms company holding licenses for fixed, wireless services (WLL), long distance and international telephony, data, internet and mobile telephony services.
  • Acting for an infrastructure investment fund and advising its client and draft relevant documentation for a proposed restructuring of a group of telecom companies who wish to employ a cross bordering share swap structure.
  • Acting for a multinational telecommunications services company on its entry into and implementation of its mobile services BCC in Vietnam.
  • Advising a multinational telecommunications services company and its BCC partner in relation to the E-GSM network development in Vietnam with an estimated total investment capital of US$560 million.