Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Metfone, VN bank ink deal to trade services

Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Nguon Sovan
Phnom Penh Post

TWO major Vietnamese companies signed a cooperation agreement in Phnom Penh Tuesday to link their telecoms and banking operations.

Under the deal, Metfone, which is operated by Viettel, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Vietnamese military, will provide communications services to the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC).

In exchange, the bank, which is owned by the Hanoi-based Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), has agreed to extend Metfone a US$40 million credit line for the expansion of its GSM mobile phone networks and a 3G upgrade.

The loan will be disbursed in stages - the first instalment of $14 million will be made available today, according to a media release issued at the signing ceremony.Neither BIDC CEO Nguyen Van Hien nor Metfone Managing Director Nguyen Duy Tho, who signed on behalf of the two companies, commented after the ceremony.

Metfone will help BIDV develop its communications infrastructure under the deal, which will include the rollout of mobile and Internet banking, as well as the deployment of an ATM network, the press release said.

It will also cover basic telecommunications needs, such as leased-line Internet services to connect the bank's branches as it expands its presence in Cambodia.Viettel officially launched its Metfone service in February following a three-month nationwide drive and trial period that saw it snap up a reported 500,000 subscribers, largely by distributing free SIM cards.

Viettel - which is run by General Director Major General Hoang Anh Xuan - is among the top three telecommunications firms in Vietnam.

Although it is set to be privatised, a 51 percent stake will stay in the military's hands, Vietnamese state media have reported. Viettel is also active in Laos, with plans to open offices in Myanmar, North Korea and Venezuela.

BIDC will also take care of all of Metfone's banking needs as part of the deal, including short-, medium- and long-term loans, bank guarantees, insurance and letters of credit, the statement said.

BIDC was launched late last month when BIDV bought and renamed Prosperity Investment Bank. The bank is managed on behalf of BIDV by the newly formed Investment and Development Company of Cambodia, which also runs Cambodia-Vietnam Insurance Company.

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