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Mobile World Vietnam planning eCommerce push

Listed phone retailer Mobile World Investment (MWG), a portfolio company of Vietnam-focused private equity firm Mekong Capital, plans a push into eCommerce to fend off competition and also align itself to changing consumer behaviour.

Mobile World Vietnam chairman/CEO Nguyen Duc Tai says the firm will be venturing into a mix of offline and online businesses to tap the US$6 billion online market in Southeast Asia. Mobile World has two retail brands, Thegioididong for mobile and DienmayXanh for electronic devices.

MWG holds a 35 per cent market share in Vietnam’s mobile market, estimated at VND60 trillion ($2.7 billion), and has a 10 per cent slice of the VND70-trillion electronics equipment market.
In January, Mobile World announced plans to distribute groceries in its first stores in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. It is testing the model for its mini-supermarket brand Bach Hoa Xanh in Ho Chi Minh City.

Mekong Capital initially invested in Mobile World in 2007 for a 32.5 per cent stake. In 2013, the investor announced its first partial exit, reducing its holding to 25.8 per cent and earning an 11x return. Mekong Capital currently holds 8.9 per cent in the retailing company.

“Foreign investors now have a strong presence in the consumer goods retailing segment and not yet really in mobile device retailing,” says Tai.

Thailand’s Central Group acquired a 49 per cent stake in electronics and home appliance retailer Nguyen Kim last year, while Aureos Capital bought 21 per cent of Tran Anh Digital, which has nearly 30 electronics stores across Vietnam, before selling the stake to Japanese retailer Nojima, which now has a 31 per cent holding.

Central Group continued its buying spree in Vietnam with the acquisitions of Big C Vietnam (at $1.1 billion) and Zalora Vietnam (reportedly at $10 million). Following the Big C Vietnam buyout, Central Group said it has about 100 stores in Vietnam, including 30 Big C hypermarkets and 13 Lanchi supermarkets in rural areas.

In the mobile device category, Mobile World is the largest player with a network of 780 Thegioididong stores. Even though MWG’s store strength is higher in electronic goods retailing, Nguyen Kim is the market leader.

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