Vietnam has allowed shipping firm Vinalines to sell more shares in two major ports Hai Phong and Saigon to private investors in a bid to restructure the state-owned enterprise sector.
The government announced that it has decided to lower its ownership to only 20 percent as private investors will not have so much interest if it continues to have a high controlling stake in these ports.
Seaport privatization has been in the picture since at least the beginning of this year when the Vietnam Maritime Administration announced that 19 seaports “need private investment.”
The new government statement said two ports, Hai Phong in the northern region and Saigon in the southern region, no longer play a very crucial role in the shipping industry, as cargo shipped through Hai Phong Port now only account for 28.7 percent of the city's total shipments while the ratio for Saigon Port is only 10.5 percent.
Vinalines still owns 95 percent of the VND3.27-trillion (US$145.5 million) Hai Phong Port, which had its initial public offering last year, and more than 65 percent in Saigon Port.
Saigon Port, which is valued at around VND4 trillion, went public last June. A total of 35.71 million shares, or 16.51 percent, were sold to local lenders Vietinbank and VPBank.
The government said the new decision will hopefully catch the interest of Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest property developer which in March offered to buy a 80 percent stake in each of the ports.
Vingroup, which belongs to the country’s richest tycoon Pham Nhat Vuong, now owns a third of Nha Trang Port, after buying all Vinalines’ shares in the port for VND85 billion.