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Vietnam gov't to thoroughly inspect Mobifone’s secret acquisition of pay TV operator

Tuesday, August 02, 2016, 18:12 GMT+7

The Government Inspectorate of Vietnam has been requested to probe a deal that took place earlier this year in which one of the country’s leading mobile network operators acquired nearly the entire stake of a local pay TV operator.

The state inspectorate should “launch an urgent and complete inspection” into Mobifone’s purchase of a 95 percent stake at Audio Visual Global (AVG), the government said in a fiat signed on Monday by Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh.

The Government Inspectorate is also required to “notify the investigative agency of any detected wrongdoings,” according to the document.

AVG is the operator of the An Vien Television payment television service, the operation of which has been transferred to Mobifone following the deal announced in January.

However, both AVG and state-run Mobifone refused to disclose the value of the deal.

The mobile network operator did say in a statement at the time that the acquisition was done as part of its bid to enter the pay-TV sector.

In April, AVG was renamed MobiTV.

Mobifone is targeting to have one million new subscribers for the pay TV service by the end of this year, and wants to be in the top three in terms of market share by 2020.

The telecom firm, managed by the Ministry of Information and Communications, was the fastest-growing mobile network operator in terms of new subscribers in 2015, growing 50 percent on a year earlier.

AVG entered Vietnam’s pay TV sector in late 2011, but is considered the worst-performing player in the industry.

Vietnam currently has some 9.9 million pay TV subscribers, but only 400,000 of them are AVG customers.

Ngo Van Khanh, deputy chief of the Government Inspectorate, said his agency will prepare a detailed inspection plan after receiving the fiat from the government.

At present, Khanh said he could not comment on any signs of violations of the undisclosed deal between Mobifone and AVG.

Pham Nhat Vu, who was AVG chairman at the time when the transaction was carried out, also turned down requests to comment on the value of the deal.

“This is a secret project and both sides have agreed that relevant details should be kept undisclosed,” Vu told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Monday afternoon.

Mobifone chairman Le Nam Tra once told the media that the company’s bid to enter the pay TV sector had been backed by the former prime minister.

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