$3.6 bil seaport project stopped, Vietnam looks for investors

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The development of Van Phong, a seaport in central Vietnam, has been halted as the country looks for new investors to replace state-owned shipper Vinalines, which failed to find enough money for the multi-billion dollar project.

The Vietnam Maritime Administration will prepare plans to attract local and foreign investors for the project, according to a government decision announced Saturday.

Construction of the international seaport in Khanh Hoa Province began at the end of October 2009, but came to a standstill after a few months.

Local media cited Vinalines officials as saying that it was difficult to find capital for the project, which carried a cost projection of US$3.6 billion and was designed to handle 17.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units of shipments per year.

Vinalines, the largest port operator in the country, had been ordered by the government to kickstart the project several times but failed to do so.

The troubled company posted losses of VND1.44 trillion (US$69.1 million) in the first half of this year, blaming the downturn in the sea transport industry for its poor performance.

Several senior executives of the company have been arrested for alleged financial mismanagement.

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