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Vietnam state oil retailer tweaks search plans for foreign strategic partner

Source: Vietnam Manpower

HO CHI MINH CITY — A petrol station operator under state-owned Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group has abandoned its search for a strategic foreign investor and will likely turn instead to multiple buyers in a proposed 45% stake sale.

With the domestic stock market slumping, PetroVietnam Oil has presented its parent company with a revised divestment plan to raise at least $300 million, according to Cao Hoai Duong, a general director at the gas station operator, which is known as PV Oil.

A source from PV Oil told the Nikkei Asian Review that the new plan is expected to receive approval from the parent “soon,” with bidding to start in 2019.

The new plan comes months after PV Oil, Vietnam’s second-largest gasoline retailer, failed to secure a strategic foreign partner by an April deadline. The time limit followed an initial public offering in January in which the company floated a 20% stake. The parent, known as PetroVietnam, still owns about 80% of the fuel distributor.

Analysts blamed the complicated administrative procedures for discouraging potential investors. PV Oil required a strategic partner to hold the stake for at least 10 years.

PV Oil’s new proposal does not mention this requirement. The distributor now seeks to divest a 44.72% stake in the form of “large portions, not to split it into small pieces,” according to Cao Hoai Duong. Local media and investors speculate that PV Oil will seek to tap multiple major investors.

Foreign investors have shown interest in the unit. SK Energy, part of South Korean conglomerate SK Holdings, appears the most eager of the bunch, which also includes oil major Royal Dutch Shell, Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan, Thailand’s PTT and Kuwait Petroleum International.

PV Oil’s initial plan fit with the government’s policy to accelerate reforms of state-owned enterprises, the main drivers of the communist country’s fast-growing economy. The company runs 540 filling stations itself and has about 3,000 locations operated by agents, mostly in northern Vietnam, as well as about 120 gas stations in Laos.

Read full article on Nikkei Asian Review