Vietnam to sell shares in Dung Quat refinery operator

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State oil and gas Petrovietnam group will sell shares in its subsidiary, Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co which is the operator of the country's only oil refinery, to the public within this year, the government said.

The operator of the $2.2-billion Dung Quat refinery will have less state ownership along with 92 other state-owned enterprises this year, the Finance Ministry said in a statement issued late on Friday, but gave no values or any specific dates.

It uses the term 'equitization' instead of privatization to describe the process of reducing state ownership via initial public offerings, in which the state retains a majority of shares.

The ministry did not say how much of the stake in Binh Son would be offered to the public. An IPO in Vietnam is separate from a listing, which can come several years after the shares have been sold to the public.

The refinery operator is the only firm run by Petrovietnam to go public this year, according to a Finance Ministry list seen by Reuters.

Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co, established in 2008, is located in the central province of Quang Ngai, where the 130,500-barrel-per-day refinery was built by French oil services group Technip and has been operational since May 2010.

The company has also been seeking to sell a 49 percent stake in the refinery, now fully owned by Petrovietnam, to foreign investors to raise funds and boost its capacity by 54 percent to 10 million tons.

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Many state-owned enterprises, which take out most of the bank loans in Vietnam, have been losing money, while government reform to diversify state ownership via privatization has been slow, upsetting investors.

Last week the government required state-owned enterprises to disclose their financial statements, as the country seeks to raise the competitiveness of the public sector and boost investor confidence.

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