Vietnam state shipbuilder says $374.8 mln of debts written off

TN News

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Debt-ridden state-owned shipbuilder Vinashin said there was a VND7.9 trillion (US$374.855 million) debt write-off last year.

Vinashin chairman Nguyen Ngoc Su told Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper last week that the write-off unexpectedly resulted in a tiny profit, but he refused to disclose details.

The government has been making efforts to restructure the firm, now known as the Shipbuilding Industry Corp. or SBIC, along with many other inefficient state-owned enterprises which have run up big debts for the last two years.

The shipbuilder, whose near-bankruptcy spurred the country's sovereign credit downgrades, defaulted on a $600 million internationally syndicated loan in 2010. It ran up over $4 billion in debts as of that time.

By October last year the firm had swapped $626.8-million of government-guaranteed bonds in Singapore for its syndicated loan. The bonds were issued at 1 percent for a 12-year period.

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The SBIC now focuses on selling, liquidating, and bankrupting 165 units and letting the remaining 69 undergo mergers or privatization.

The number of its subsidiaries would decline to just eight, of which Su said there would be a "genuine change in quality."

The shipbuilder has tied up with major Dutch shipyard Damen, which has invested in three of SBIC's subsidiaries.

The Dutch group has pledged to make a study for a comprehensive tie-up with SBIC's eight shipyards, he said, adding that his firm is also in talks for deals with South Korean giant Samsung and potential partners from Greece, Russia, and Singapore.

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