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Beeline manager exits

The general manager of Cambodian mobile operator Beeline has left the company, following brand-owner Vimpelcom’s selloff of Vietnamese assets and a more than US$500 million over-valuation of its Cambodia and Vietnam markets.

General manager Gael Campan’s departure raised questions about Amsterdam-based Vimpelcom’s future in the Kingdom, which analysts have said will not be long-lived.

Campan said he had left Beeline last week, but declined to give a reason for his departure. “I can’t say why, but it’s none of your business for sure,” he said by phone yesterday.

Vimpelcom director of communications Bobby Leach said early yesterday in Amsterdam he was not aware of Campan’s exit.

Further calls and emails concerning new leadership arrangements for Beeline Cambodia went unanswered.

Beeline’s yellow-and-black logo will disappear in Vietnam during the next six months, according to a Vimpelcom statement late last month.

The company, one of the world’s largest mobile operators by customer numbers, announced in April the selloff of its 49 per cent stake in Vietnam’s GTEL Mobile Joint Stock Co for $45 million to GTEL Transmit and Infrastructure Service One Member Co.

Coupled with an impairment charge of $527 million for Cambodia and Vietnem issued by Vimpelcom in mid-March, Marc Einstein, an independent telecoms analysts based in Tokyo, said in April that a selloff of the company’s Cambodian business was “imminent”.

“They have finally realised that they messed up. They went into a market that was way too competitive . . . and it didn’t work,” Einstein said at the time.

In late April, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that sources close to Vimpelcom’s Russian shareholder had said the company was considering the sale of its Cambodian operations.

Beeline struggled to gain a significant market share in Cambodia after entering the country nearly three years ago.

The operator had 630,000 subscribers as of November, and has consistently been grouped among the market’s four smallest service providers, according to data obtained by the Post.

The 1.45 million Beeline, Mfone, qb and Excell users accounted for less than 10 per cent of the total market in November.

The company lost and regained customers in 2011, according to the data.

Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun said yesterday he was unaware of a potential Beeline selloff, but he stressed the important role mergers and acquisitions would play in a slowing telecoms market.

“If [Beeline] cannot carry on with their business here, they should co-operate with another company,” So Khun said.

“There’s no room for more telecom operators because subscriber numbers have slowed down.”

Frequency space for new operators was also unavailable, So Khun added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Weinland at don.weinland@phnompenhpost.com

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