Mobile operator Beeline has not ruled out a possible acquisition after enjoying “healthy and sustainable” growth since its May 2009 launch in Cambodia, according to General Director Gael Campan.
Despite parent company Vimpelcom stating that third quarter results for its operations in Cambodia and Vietnam last year fell “below expectations”, Campan said that the firm is “growing well and our growth is healthy and sustainable”.
He agreed with commentators that the domestic service provider market was overcrowded, but said there was no “crystal ball or algorithm” to decide the right number of operators in any industry or country.
“Generally speaking there are always opportunities to buy or sell; it is just a matter of price.” he wrote.
The company behind the Beeline brand is attempting to link with providers in other parts of the world.
Beeline’s parent company Sotelco is majority owned by New York-listed Vimplecom Ltd. It is involved in an ongoing merger with telecommunications assets owned by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, though some shareholders publicly oppose the deal.
“This deal would allow Beeline Cambodia to be part of the fifth largest telco group worldwide, leveraging this in terms of best practices sharing and organisation…,” Campan wrote.
In Cambodia, Beeline is aiming at a younger demographic as a market for its services. It has recently introduced handset models that are dual SIM – meaning a user handset can swap back and forth between two different service providers.
“Youth is the core of the Cambodian market, they set trends and they like to experiment,” he said.
“[Cambodians] are always aware about services and promotions from all operators. It is hard or pointless to make them use only one operator’s SIM.”
According to a Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications presentation earlier this year, Beeline does not have a 3G licence. But Gael Campan said it operates its EDGE technology at 2.75G speed, and is available in all 24 provinces. Part of Beeline’s expansion was facilitated through sharing communication towers with other operators, a move which began last year.
“Currently we are under negotiations to extend tower sharing,” said Gael Campan.
Vimpelcom saw regional operating losses, before depreciation and amortisation, rise to US$8.8 million in the third quarter of last year on revenues of $5 million, but the figure remained substantially below the $13.2 million operating loss recorded in Q3 2009.