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Siemens, Idemitsu among suitors drawn to Vietnam energy sell-off
[HANOI] Buyers from Germany, Japan, India and beyond are kicking the tires on Vietnam's great state asset sale.
The government's hunt for overseas investment in some of the nation's biggest energy companies has yielded interest from firms including Siemens AG, Idemitsu Kosan Co. and Indian Oil Corp., among others, according to Deputy Minister of Industry & Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong.
"We're actively in the process to find foreign investors" and intend to finalize the deals by the end of the year, Mr Vuong said in an interview in Hanoi on Thursday, adding that the timeline for the stake sales was set by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
According to Mr Vuong, the following deals are in the works: PetroVietnam Oil Corp., known as PV Oil, is working with Idemitsu and SK Energy Co. on a strategic partnership.
PetroVietnam Power Corp., or PV Power, is in discussions with foreign investors including Siemens, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Pcl and Taekwang Industrial Co. on a key stake purchase.
Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co., which raised 5.57 trillion dong (S$326.5 million) from selling a 7.8 per cent stake in Vietnam's first oil refinery Dung Quat in January, is in talks with Indian Oil about a partnership; Indian Oil is doing due diligence on the deal before they can firm up a price.
Vietnam, which needs billions of dollars in infrastructure investments, is dramatically accelerating sales of stakes in state-owned companies to boost revenue and ease a strained budget, while seeking to exceed its economic growth target of 6.7 per cent this year. Stakes in 245 state companies are up for sale this year, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said in a Bloomberg TV interview in January.
Arun Kumar Sharma, finance director of Indian Oil, confirmed discussions are ongoing. Ratchaburi said by email that it has been looking for potential investments in Vietnam and waiting for more information on the deal. Siemens declined to comment. SK Energy, Taekwang and Idemitsu didn't respond to requests for comment Friday.
"Vietnamese energy companies have good potential to grow due to rising demand in the domestic market while supply is still limited," Vu Minh Khuong, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore who researches economic development, said by email.
The government is banking on an expanding middle class and its youthful population to lure investors. Among the assets sold last year was a majority stake in the nation's top brewer Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp., or Sabeco, to Thai Beverage Pcl and its partner in December, for US$4.8 billion.