Siemens, Idemitsu among suitors in Vietnam’s energy sell-off


HANOI • Buyers from Germany, Japan, India and beyond are kicking the tyres 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 finalise the deals by the end of the year, Vuong said in an interview in Hanoi last Thursday, adding that the timeline for the stake sales was set by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

According to 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 (RM966.39 million) from selling a 7.8% 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% 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 is awaiting more information on the deal. Siemens declined to comment.

SK Energy, Taekwang and Idemitsu didn’t respond to requests for comment last 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 country’s 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 (RM18.93 billion).

Vuong also said the government plans to offer shares in Vietnam Electricity Group units in the fourth quarter: Power Generation Corp 1 and Power Generation Corp 2, commonly known as EVNGENCO 1 and EVNGENCO 2.

The country’s benchmark VN Index has risen about 5% this year, on course for a seventh year of gains.