Russian-based international operator VimpelCom has agreed to sell its 49 percent stake in the Beeline brand to its partner Gtel Transmit and Infrastructure Service One Member Company Limited, making Gtel a wholly locally owned firm.

Under the deal, Gtel Company is to pay around 45 million USD for the buyback after a year-long negotiation and not use the Beeline trademark within six months of the transfer. The mobile service provider will launch a brand to replace Beeline.

Nguyen The Du, Gtel's deputy general director, said the transfer will not affect the company's operation or customers' rights.

"The buyback was under the VimpelCom's development strategy worldwide to suspend its operation in several countries and territories and focus on key markets," Du said, adding that VimpelCom was committed to support Gtel in transferring brand management.

He said the transfer will be a good opportunity for Gtel as they has still seen potentials in Vietnam 's telecom market while Beeline has built a considerable foundation which will be valuable to telecom providers.

"Beeline's results with a positive response from users will create a competitive advantage for Gtel in parallel with its knowledge of the domestic market," he said. "Gtel always puts customers' rights at the top of our business strategy."

In late July of 2009, Gtel Mobile, a joint venture between Gtel and VimpelCom, officially announced the launch of Beeline, the seventh telecommunications provider in Vietnam .

The first foreign-invested telecom network is well-known for its big promotional campaigns. The most notable was the "billionaire" package which allowed subscribers to make free phone calls within the network. The package put 1 billion VND (47,900 USD) into subscribers' account.

VimpelCom is a leading telecommunication services provider in Eastern Europe and Middle Asia. In Southeast Asia, the group has established a foothold in Cambodia , Laos and Vietnam . It increased its holding in Gtel Mobile from 40 to 49 percent at a cost of 196 million USD last year. At that time, it said it planned to invest 500 million USD more in the Beeline network by the end of 2013.

According to the latest statistics by Wireless Intelligence Data, Gtel Mobile had 3.8 million mobile subscribers in Vietnam in the first quarter of this year, accounting for a 3 percent share in the mobile market.-VNA