March 14, 2018 / 4:20 AM / 9 months ago

Vietnam raises $51 million from selling 23 percent of Vinafood II at IPO

A seller displays rice bags for sale at a store in Danang city, Vietnam March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) - The Vietnamese government raised 1.16 trillion dong ($51 million) from selling a 23 percent stake in top rice exporter Vietnam Southern Food Corp (Vinafood II) at an initial public offering on Wednesday, exchange data showed.

The company sold all of the 114.83 million shares on offer on the Hochiminh Stock Exchange.

The sale of state-run Vinafood II is part of Vietnam’s broader privatization program to increase efficiency and performance of state-owned enterprises.

The program, supported by a strong stock market, will also fill the government’s coffers as public debt nears the mandated ceiling of 65 percent of gross domestic product. Vietnam’s main stock index rose 48 percent last year, making it Asia’s strongest performer.

Trading and retailing firm Hanoi Trade Corp said last month it aimed to raise around $43 million by selling a 34.5 percent stake in an IPO on March 30.

Vinafood II has rice processing plants with an annual capacity of three million tonnes for exports. Most of its facilities are located in the Mekong Delta, the country’s rice bowl. The company also processes seafood and produces instant noodles, flour and fish feed.

Vinafood II also plans to sell another 25 percent stake to strategic investors after the IPO.

Vietnam is the world’s third-largest rice exporter. The country is seen exporting 6.5 million tonnes of rice this year, up 12 percent from last year.

According to Vietnamese regulations, any state-owned company has to list its shares within one year after its IPO.

Reporting by Hanoi Newsroom; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Gopakumar Warrier

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