Oman, Vietnamese investors in race for Hai Phong Port

Investors have geared up in the race for the right to take over Hai Phong Port, an important port in northern Vietnam.

Vietnam, Hai Phong Port, Vingroup
Local newspapers several months ago reported that Vietnam found a buyer for Hai Phong Port – SGRF State General Reserve Fund, a sovereign wealth fund in Oman. 

At that moment, SGRF was the only candidate for the deal and Vietnamese thought the port would fall into the hands of the investor from Oman.

However, some days ago, Vingroup, a powerful Vietnamese real estate group, unexpectedly announced it wanted to buy at least 80 percent of Hai Phong Port’s shares.

In the latest news, SGRF has sent a document to the government of Vietnam and relevant ministries, repeating the willingness to buy Hai Phong Port’s shares.

In the document, Adbuslam Al Mursdhidi, President and CEO of SGRF, proposed that the government of Vietnam sell a certain amount of Hai Phong Port shares as agreed after direct negotiations. The fund would also buy more if the government sold additional shares.

If SGRF cannot collect more than 49 percent of shares, it might consider joining forces with Vietnamese companies (to be appointed by the government or to be found by SGRF) to set up a joint venture which would buy all the shares to be put up for sale.

The proposal on cooperating with Vietnamese investors to develop Hai Phong Port was made after SGRF heard that Vingroup also wants to buy the port.

The Oman investor said that it would improve the business performance of the port after becoming a big shareholder as it has experience in port development in other countries.

The competition for Hai Phong Port is becoming fierce, while Hai Phong Port shares are becoming more valuable, though they could not be sold at the IPO in 2014. 

If the State continues selling Hai Phong Port shares, the state’s ownership ratio at the port would end up being very low.

The Ministry of Transport has submitted to the government a plan on selling 80 percent of the state’s capital of Hai Phong port to Vingroup.

The move means that the Oman investor has been excluded from the list of potential investors, analysts said.

The analysts said that Vingroup now has advantages over Oman’s investor in the competition for Hai Phong Port.

Oman’s SGRF was the first investor who asked to buy Hai Phong Port, while the Prime Minister agreed to sell part of the shares to it at reasonable prices. 

However, under current law, foreign investors must not hold more than 49 percent of shares in a Vietnamese company. 

Vingroup is a worthy competitivor as it wants to buy a large amount of stocks.

Dat Viet

Vietnam, Hai Phong Port, Vingroup