State-owned Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) said on Thursday that it has not ventured into the real estate sector, allaying concerns about its investment activities.
"The group is not involved in any real estate business and investment activity," Deputy General Director Le Minh Hong told Thanh Nien. "Revenues from the oil and gas business have never been invested in real estate."
Hong was confirming an earlier statement made by PetroVietnam Chairman Dinh La Thang.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, Thang said PetroVietnam Construction Corp (PVC), a subsidiary in which the state oil group owns a 40 percent stake, was the only one in the group that has real estate interests. He noted that PVC plans to raise its registered capital and reduce the stake held by the parent company to 20 percent.
Some PVC subsidiaries are trading in real estate, but PVC holds less than 30 percent stake in these firms, Thang said.
Nguyen Duyen Hai, PVC deputy general director, told Thanh Nien he would soon announce the total number of real estate companies and projects under the PVC umbrella.
At the last National Assembly session in March, some legislators had voiced concerns over investment activities of the state oil group. "The group is expanding its investment to many sectors, including real estate. Is it one of the group's focuses?" representative Pham Thi Loan asked.
A survey by Thanh Nien has found that PetroVietnam, though not directly, has indeed invested in real estate. Some companies wholly-owned by PetroVietnam including PV Power, PV Gas and PV Oil are actually founding shareholders of real estate companies.
Deputy General Director Hong said PetroVietnam has been restructuring its investment and will divest its stake in subsidiaries involved in the real estate sector.
Economist Le Dang Doanh said when many of its subsidiaries are still investing in real esate, people will continue to question PetroVietnam and its business activities.
"As a large state-owned enterprise, the company needs to disclose its finances and profit numbers," he said.