Vietnam investment arm calls for less aggressive stake purchases

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Vendors sit outside a shop selling clothes in Hanoi. Premier Nguyen Tan Dung has outlined a revamp of all state enterprises to spur growth. Photo credit: Reuters Vendors sit outside a shop selling clothes in Hanoi. Premier Nguyen Tan Dung has outlined a revamp of all state enterprises to spur growth. Photo credit: Reuters
A Vietnamese government investment arm that’s been newly charged with buying stakes in state companies with failed public offerings is calling for scaled- down purchases, countering an aggressive government plan.
State Capital Investment Corp., which holds state stakes in listed companies, says it is asking the government to “narrow down and prioritize” the number of firms it has to invest in among the 340 businesses that are required to sell shares by end-2015, according to Deputy General Director Le Song Lai.
“We need from the government specific criteria for the stake purchases,” Lai said in a phone interview Oct. 10 in Hanoi. “The 340 companies is too many. It will be very hard for us to do the job with such vagueness.”
Vietnam’s privatization of state-owned companies has lagged this year and the government raised just 2.23 trillion dong ($105 million) from initial public offerings, less than half the target for the shares sold. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has outlined a revamp of all state enterprises to spur growth as the economy is on course to expand below 7 percent for a seventh straight year.
Under a new regulation passed in September, SCIC, as the investment arm is commonly known, will make investments in government-controlled companies that fail to sell shares to the public in IPOs, Lai said. SCIC currently holds stakes in Vietnam Dairy Products JSC, the country’s second-biggest listed company, and FPT Corp., the largest listed telecommunications firm, among others.
“Having us step in as a strategic investor in some state companies will help quicken the restructuring process,” Lai said. “However, we need the government to specify which industries, so that we can focus our resources.”
SCIC has also asked the government to allow it to take over the state’s ownership in some companies so that it doesn't need to make as many purchases, Lai said.
Vietnam has held IPOs for 33 state companies this year through Aug. 21.

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