Indebted Vietnam seafood firm to swap bank debts for equity

TN News

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Seven banks have agreed to a debt-equity swap with Phuong Nam Seafood JSC, one of Vietnam's top 10 seafood exporters last year, as part of a plan to restructure the massively indebted company.

The firm's debts to the banks are estimated at VND1.6 trillion (US$76.7 million), more than five times its chartered capital.

News website VnExpress quoted a source as saying the company owed VND548 billion to Agribank Soc Trang as of August, and the others, from VND8 billion to VND341 billion.

It had to pay an estimated VND200 billion ($9.6 million) in interest annually.

The existing law limits an individual bank's stake in a company to 11 percent.

The new owners decided Monday to appoint Tran Van Tri, CEO of Tri Viet International Investment Corp., who helped make the deal, as the CEO of Phuong Nam, according to Vietnamnet.

Agribank Soc Trang said Tri Viet Corp. would also bring in a new board at Phuong Nam in early December.

Phuong Nam's exports totaled $74 million last year, the ninth highest by a seafood exporter, but has been struggling with debts due to the economic downturn.

Its assets are estimated at VND560 billion.

Lam Ngoc Khuan, the firm's general director, has been in the US for medical treatment for over the year, leaving Huynh Phuc Que, a board member, to run it. It is not known when Khuan would return.

"Tri Viet Corp. has experience in successfully restructuring seafood firm Bianfishco," Vietnamnet quoted Tri as saying.

"The company believes it can turn around Phuong Nam, which faces bankruptcy."


Appellate court upholds ruling against debt-ridden Vietnamese firm

From May to October this year Tri was CEO of Bianfishco, another seafood company that was on the brink of collapse early this year. He only stepped down after the firm reported an improvement in its debt situation.

In mid-October Tri said Bianfishco's debts had fallen by nearly 50 percent from last year to $48 million.

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