Vietnam’s largest property developer Vingroup has requested the government to make an exception and allow it to become the major investor in two of the most busiest seaports currently run by the state.
A source from the Ministry of Transport told local media that the privately-owned conglomerate has offered to buy a stake of 80 percent each in Saigon Port and Hai Phong Port, a deal that if goes through will be the country’s biggest seaport transfer ever.
Saigon Port, which is valued at around VND4 trillion (US$187.36 million), is set to go public by June this year. Vingroup said it will pay no less than the price the government has in mind for the IPO.
Vingroup is also offering to pay more than the market value for a majority stake in Hai Phong Port.
The VND3.27 trillion port has its IPO last year, but nearly 95 percent of shares now still belong to state-owned shipping giant Vinalines.
Private ownership cap
A prime minister’s decision signed last year only allows private investors to own up to 25 percent of airports and seaports.
But after the IPO of Hai Phong Port failed to attract investors, the government decided to raise the private ownership cap to 49 percent.
Vingroup, which belongs to the country's richest tycoon Pham Nhat Vuong, now owns a third of Nha Trang Port after buying all Vinalines’ shares of the port for VND85 billion.
A source from the transport ministry said it will have to seek the prime minister’s decision over Vingroup’s offer for the ports of Saigon and Hai Phong.
The government will have to weigh Vingroup’s offer against another from Vietnam Oman Investments, a joint venture between the State General Reserve Fund of Oman and the State Capital Investment Corporation of Vietnam, which is seeking to buy a stake of nearly 30 percent in Hai Phong Port.