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Vinalines clears debts with share swap

Update: December, 11/2014 - 08:43
HA NOI  (VNS) — The State Bank of Viet Nam has agreed to transfer some of the debt owed to Vietinbank by the Viet Nam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) into shares of member ports.

The scheme, affecting VND5 trillion (US$234.7 million) in debt, will go into effect when the port managers are equitised and will first be applied to Hai Phong Port and Da Nang Port, making Vietinbank the ports' major shareholder for next year's issuance.

According to a document sent to the prime minister, the central bank said this measure would not only help Vinalines reduce its debt burden but would also improve the non-performing loans situation of the bank.

However, the State Bank was concerned about the lack of legislation for transforming debts into shares, particularly when Hai Phong Port and Da Nang Port are not Vietinbank's clients.

The responsibility for building a legal framework for this operation lies with the Ministry of Finance, which needs to quickly implement the scheme aimed at addressing bad debts that was approved last year by the prime minister.

Since the beginning of 2014, Vietinbank has expressed its will to acquire the shares of Vinalines' members, which would be a positive development for the state-owned giant, allowing it to handle a large volume of debts while selecting a strategic partner following the unsuccessful launch of the ports' initial public offerings.

Vietinbank reportedly asked to be excused from the standard requirements for becoming a strategic shareholder.

As of the end of last year, Vinalines owed some VND48 trillion ($2.25 billion) to the banks.

Funds raised with MSB sell-off

Vinalines raised more than VND315 billion (US$14.8 million) from selling more than 20 million shares of Maritime Bank (MSB) during an auction early this week, according to Ha Noi Stock Exchange.

The shares, with a face value of VND10,000 (47 US cent), were sold to two investors at an average price of VND15,654 per share.

Vinalines' disinvestment from Maritime Bank constitutes phase two of its restructuring plan.

As of December 31, 2011, Vinalines had poured a total of VND314.8 billion into Maritime Bank. The bank had a charter capital of VND8 trillion. In the first half of this year, the bank posted profits of nearly VND80 billion.

VNPT, which has a holding of 8.95 per cent in Maritime Bank, also intends to withdraw capital from the bank in accordance with its restructuring plan. — VNS

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