Petrovietnam Insurance says in stake sale talks

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Petrovietnam Insurance Co, the insurance arm of Vietnam's state oil and gas group Petrovietnam, said on Wednesday it was in talks to sell a stake to a strategic investor, but did not name the investor.

Oman Investment Fund owns 12.6 percent in the Hanoi-based firm, which holds a monopoly on Vietnam's energy insurance market. PVI Chairman Nguyen Anh Tuan disclosed the talks at a news conference to announce its half-year results.

Vietnam allows foreign investors to hold a maximum 49 percent in a domestic company.

The company said six-month gross profit rose 13 percent to VND220 billion ($10.7 million) and accounted for 52.3 percent of the annual target set for 2011.

The profit was made as revenues jumped 18.6 percent from a year ago to VND3 trillion, PVI Deputy Chief Executive Officer Pham Khac Dung told reporters.

The company now has a 25 percent share of Vietnam's non-life insurance market, providing risk coverage and insurance for property in the energy and maritime sectors, he said.

Chief Executive Bui Van Thuan said PVI planned to insure Vietnamese fishermen against risks in the South China Sea if their vessels and equipment are damaged by disasters or by foreign ships.

"We are going to launch this product in the next month or two," Thuan said.

PVI said its insurance coverage for offshore oil and gas projects, including those in overlapping waters, make "important contributions to ensuring the national energy security and sovereignty at sea."

Vietnam and China have had territorial disputes since late May over resource-rich areas in the South China Sea, which covers the world's busiest sea lanes and provides rich fishing.

PVI shares closed 2.0 percent up at 15,200 dong ($0.9) each on Wednesday.

In June 2010 PVI signed a $3 billion contract to provide insurance to the $2.2-billion 130,500-barrel-per-day Dung Quat oil refinery, Vietnam's sole facility invested and run by Petrovietnam.

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