Vietnam Airlines Corp., which sold shares in an initial public offering 17 months ago, expects to get them listed “some time later this year” after closing a deal with ANA Holdings Inc., Chief Executive Officer Pham Ngoc Minh said.
The shares of the state-owned carrier may start trading on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange, Minh said in an interview in Hanoi. The company agreed to sell an 8.8 percent stake to the Japanese airline in January for $108 million as part of a plan to offload 20 percent.
“We expect to list the shares later this year after completing our strategic partnership deal with ANA and fulfilling some procedural requirements of the exchange,” he said.
Vietnam Airlines is revamping its fleet with the latest wide-body aircraft from Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE as it adds international routes to meet demand for air travel from the country’s growing middle class. Pre-tax profit in the first half of 2016 is likely to jump about three to four times amid an increase in passenger traffic of as much as 13 percent, Minh said.
The company plans to open new routes from the Southeast Asian nation’s central-coast beach cities of Nha Trang and Danang to Japan and South Korea, he said. Easing of tourist visa rules last year by the government for visitors from France, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and Germany is boosting traffic, according to Minh.
The airline is also spending to help unit Jetstar Pacific Airlines expand its fleet to 30 planes from 12 over the next four years. It plans to jointly invest $139 million in the subsidiary, along with partner Qantas Airways Ltd., Minh said. Vietnam Airlines owns 70 percent of Jetstar, while Qantas holds the rest.
Facing stiff competition from low-cost carrier VietJet Aviation Joint Stock Co., Vietnam Airlines is positioning itself as a premium carrier, targeting the country’s new flying classes as well as foreign tourists, he said. VietJet may surpass the national carrier this year to become Vietnam’s biggest domestic operator, according to CAPA Centre for Aviation.
“The overall market share doesn’t mean so much,” Minh said. “Good margin is more important. We want to keep our main market segment as premium. We aim for high-end services.”
The carrier said its first-quarter pre-tax profit rose 33 percent , while passenger traffic climbed 12 percent.
Vietnam Airlines raised about $51.3 million from the November 2014 IPO, selling the entire 49 million shares offered at an average price of 22,307 dong ($1). Equivalent to a 3.5 percent stake, the company was then valued at $1.5 billion.
In Vietnam, after an IPO, it is normal for companies to wait for months before their shares start trading on a bourse. The nation’s two stock exchanges reported 139 offerings in 2015, of which only 47 were listed the same year, according to a report by the State Securities Commission.
State-owned Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverages Corp., the country’s biggest beer maker, sold shares in 2008 and Vietnam National Textile & Garment Group, the No. 1 textile maker, in 2014. Both have yet to list them.