May 21, 2009 / 10:59 AM / in 9 years

VimpelCom investing $200 mln in Cambodian phones

PHNOM PENH, May 21 (Reuters) - VimpelCom VIP.N, Russia’s number two mobile phone operator, said it would invest $200 million in the Cambodian telecoms sector after taking a 90 percent stake in local mobile company Sotelco Ltd last year.

Anna Aybasheva, a spokeswoman for VimpelCom in Phnom Penh, said that this investment over three years included $70 million to develop the operation in 2009.

“We can see Cambodia’s market has very good potential, so we plan to develop our business here,” she told Reuters on Thursday.

The mobile phone penetration rate last year was low at around 25 percent but was expected to grow to 43 percent this year, especially with the entry of new operators, Aybasheva said.

Cambodia has a population of 14 million, 80 percent of whom live in the countryside, and about 4 million mobile subscribers, according to the government.

The Southeast Asian country has nine mobile phone firms, all foreign-owned except market leader Mobitel, which works in partnership with Luxembourg-registered Millicom International Cellular MICC.O.

VimpelCom, which also operates in neighbouring Vietnam, said last July when it bought the Sotelco stake that it aimed for a market share of roughly 20 percent. (Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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