Telecommunications firm SaigonTel plans to terminate its listing on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange in what it says is a move to restructure its business in a gloomy market.
"The stock market has lost its appeal as it is no longer a good channel to help companies raise funds. Many firms have recently failed with their share and bond issues," Dang Thanh Tam, chairman of SaigonTel said in an interview published on news website VnExpress April 25.
The benchmark VN-Index has seesawed around the 460-mark since early March. Analysts say they have yet to see any signs of recovery in the market in the short term.
Tam blamed the dull market on difficult economic situations and government policies that restrict loans for investment in stocks and real estate.
"SaigonTel (SGT) shares have plummeted unexpectedly. Their price is now lower than their real value. If we don't exit the stock market soon, the position and reputation of SaigonTel will be seriously affected," said Tam. "Delisting SGT shares to restructure the company is a must for the firm's survival and its future."
SaigonTel, or Saigon Telecommunication & Technology Corp., listed its shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange on January 10, 2008. As of last December, its registered capital was VND740 billion (US$35.9 million).
The company's stock has sunk 43 percent so far this year, compared with a 2.7 percent decrease in VN-Index. The share, one of more than 70 stocks being traded below their par value (VND10,000) on the Ho Chi Minh City bourse, now changes hands for around VND7,000.
Tam said his company will buy back SGT shares from those who do not want to continue to hold the shares after it exits the stock exchange. They will buy the shares at higher than current prices at the bourse, he added. Tam did not provide a timeframe for the delisting.
He said SaigonTel's delisting plan will not worsen the gloomy market as the firm's capitalization accounts for a small portion of the exchange. "We want to terminate our listing to comprehensively restructure our company. But when the "˜storm' is over, we may float our shares on the bourse again."
Tam, also chairman of Kinh Bac City Development and Tan Tao Investment and Industry Corporation, was Vietnam's third richest businessman by stock holdings in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Asked if he was afraid he will not make the top three list of richest businessmen this year due to the delisting, Tam said, "That's a non-issue. Shareholders' and the company's future are much more important. I have never worked toward maintaining my position in the top three."
Le Xuan Nghia, deputy chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, said interest rates may fall as the government's tightened monetary policies start taking effect in May, and show stronger impacts in the third quarter. This will help the stock market rebound, he said.
But he was worried that companies and investors may not be patient enough to stick with the market to overcome its current difficulties.
On April 21, a day before SaigonTel's shareholders approved the plan to delist shares, the Saigon-Quy Nhon Mining Corp (SQC) also won approval from shareholders to terminate its listing on the Hanoi Stock Exchange. The company's chairwoman, Dang Thi Hoang Phuong, is Tam's sister.
Due to the dull stock market, leading telecom firm MobiFone has said it may postpone plans to sell shares for a second time.
The sale of shares in MobiFone, a mobile phone operator owned by state group VNPT, had originally been scheduled for the second quarter of 2009 and then delayed until this year.
But now, a representative of the company, who wished to remain unnamed, told the Dau Tu Chung Khoan newspaper that his firm may not go public this year.
He explained that MobiFone cannot sell shares at low prices as this will badly affect the state budget. And if it offers shares at their real value, investors may not be eager to buy, given the current market situation, he said.