Vietnam’s plan to invest in Samsung at a standstill

By Minh Nga, TN News

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Samsung's factory in Vietnam's northern province of Bac Ninh specialize in producing mobile phone, tablets, components and other electric devices
Although the Vietnamese government has announced that its investment firm SCIC plans to invest in Korean giant Samsung Electronics, SCIC says that the move will be difficult and is far from being done.

The government office on February 15 announced that Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said that “the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) in the coming time will work with Samsung to contribute capital, acquire shares or invest in the Korean firm.”

But a representative from SCIC told news website thoibaokinhtesaigon that if Samsung – now the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam -- and SCIC cooperate, it would be Samsung and its subsidiaries that will buy shares in companies managed by SCIC or from which SCIC wants to divest.

It would be very difficult for SCIC to acquire Samsung shares or invest in Samsung, he said.

In its announcement, the government asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to cooperate with other ministries and departments to choose potential projects from a list of major national projects in need of foreign investment and call on Samsung to invest in them.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Transport have worked with Samsung on its capacity to invest in the Vung Ang thermal power plant in northern province of Ha Tinh and in the Long Thanh International Airport in southern province of Dong Nai.

So far Samsung has expressed its interest in Vietnam’s shipbuilding industry, drilling rigs and the Vung Ang thermal power project. But like other foreign companies in Vietnam, Samsung is considering acquiring shares of state-owned enterprises that are considering divestment from some of their companies.

SCIC had planned to invest in some of those projects, but according to its representative, the firm has not made any specific moves due to procedural problems and has not decided on what prices it would pay for such shares.

According to SCIC, as of the end of last year, the company had invested more than VND14 trillion (US$665 million) in 369 enterprises throughout Vietnam.

The sum has been used to buy bonds and shares shares from those firms, and to contribute capital, equipment and infrastructure.

SCIC’s pre-tax profit last year was VND4.5 trillion ($213.7 million), 6 percent more than it’s target and up 23 percent compared to the year before.

It contributed to the state budget a sum of nearly VND1.8 trillion (85.5 million) last year.

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