Vietnam set to privatize seaports

Thanh Nien News

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The Ministry of Transport is calling on the private sector to invest in new ports and plans to pull out of the sector, news website Saigon Times Online reported Thursday.
It quoted Do Duc Tien, deputy chief of the Vietnam Maritime Administration, as saying at a recent meeting that his agency would announce a list of 41 projects related to maritime infrastructure, including 19 seaports, that need private investment this month.
They are estimated to totally need VND43 trillion (US$1.98 billion), 16 percent of which has already been pledged by investors.
Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang promised that procedures and paperwork related to the projects would be transparent.
He said the Lach Huyen deepwater port in the northern city of Hai Phong would be the last maritime project to be state-funded.
“The government will only invest in projects that play a role in national defense and security.”
In other related news, shipping giant Vinalines planned to propose with the government to allow it to totally divest from Quang Ninh Port, instead of selling just 35 to 49 percent of its shares, according to the news report.

Quang Ninh Port. File photo
It quoted an unnamed source as saying that T&T Group, a Vietnamese-owned investment company owned by Saigon-Hanoi Commercial Bank chairman Do Quang Hien, had offered to take over the main port in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
Estimated VND622 billion ($28.75 million), Quang Ninh Port had its initial public offering (IPO) in May last year, expected to sell 22.1 percent of its state fund with each stock’s starting price at VND11,000.
However, the port ended up selling only 7.5 percent of its offered capital, collecting less than VND10 billion ($462,000).
Vinalines planned to organize another sale one month later, but it was canceled as no investors showed interests.
According to the unnamed source, the IPO failed because it was made in haste, and more importantly, a too high rate of shares was owned by the state.
If Vinalines’ proposal was approved, T&T would have to make the purchase through bidding, or negotiations with prices that would have to be not lower than that of the last IPO, it said.
The government has recently given green light for Vinalines to sell 29.58 percent, at maximum, of the state capital at Hai Phong Port to Vietnam Oman Investment, a joint-venture between the Vietnamese government investment hand SCIC and the State General Reserve Fund of Oman.
Vinalines has had to absorb the debt-laden subsidiaries of former shipbuilder Vinashin and reported $117 million in losses in 2012.

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