Vietnam's Masan group says considering listing shares abroad

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Masan Group Corp., the food, banking and natural-resources company that's the biggest stock in the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange, said it's considering listing shares abroad.

Masan may sell shares by issuing new stock, depositary receipts, convertible bonds or securities that can be converted into shares in domestic or foreign markets through private placement or public offerings, the company said in a stock exchange statement.

"There is very little liquidity in the shares here," said Hana Dang, a Ho Chi Minh City-based partner at BankInvest, a Danish asset manager which had a 10.6 percent stake in Masan at the end of 2010, according to Masan's annual report. "If Masan can go abroad it would help the company and it would help investors."

Masan has jumped 67 percent this year, compared with a 13 percent drop on the VN Index. The company didn't specify the timing of any listing and declined further comment. The company's market value was VND64.4 trillion ($3.1 billion) at Friday's close, the largest among the 298 companies on the Ho Chi Minh City exchange.

The company is targeting a value of 5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product within three years, according to its latest annual report. The International Monetary Fund forecast in June that Vietnam's GDP will be $118.6 billion at the end of 2011.

Hong Kong or Singapore

Any Masan listing overseas would probably be in either Hong Kong or Singapore, according to Dang. The two markets are seen as "Asian hub markets" and are probably "the front-runners," said Dominic Scriven, the Ho Chi Minh City-based chief executive of Dragon Capital, whose funds own shares in Masan.

"There is a view that international markets are more in Masan's interest because they are more liquid and often have better pricing," said Scriven.

HAGL Joint-Stock Co., a Vietnamese property company, said in March that it had become the first Vietnamese company to list depositary receipts on a foreign stock exchange, on the London bourse. Vincom Joint-Stock Co., the country's biggest listed property company, said in June that it has received Vietnamese and Singaporean regulatory approval to list shares on Singapore's stock exchange.

KKR & Co., a New York-based asset manager, agreed in April to pay $159 million for a 10 percent stake in Masan Consumer Corp., a unit of the parent whose products include fish sauce, soy sauce, and instant noodles. Masan Group's other businesses include a stake in Vietnam Technological & Commercial Joint- Stock Bank, and control of a tungsten, fluorspar and bismuth mining project in northern Vietnam.

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