September 30, 2018 / 12:52 PM / in 18 days

CORRECTED-Vietnam launches agency to boost performance at state companies

(Corrects stake value in paragraph 2)

HANOI, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Vietnam has launched a ministry-level government agency aimed at boosting the performance of some of the Communist nation’s biggest state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The new Commission for the Management of State Capital (CMSC) at enterprises will manage 19 state-owned companies in which the government holds stakes with a combined book value of 1,000 trillion dong ($42.9 billion), the government said on Sunday.

The list includes state oil and gas firm PetroVietnam, flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, top oil distributor Petrolimex, mobile operator MobiFone and State Capital Investment Corporation, which owns shares in Vinamilk, one of Vietnam’s top listed companies.

The Southeast Asian nation has for years sought to boost SOEs through stake sales, internal restructuring or stock market listings, but progress has fallen short of targets.

“Increasing efficiency of SOEs and, from there, increasing our economy’s competitiveness is essential,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at Sunday’s ceremony to launch the CMSC.

Vietnam created SOEs as national champions to lead key economic sectors, but its efforts have been stymied by corruption and poor management.

CMSC has signed an agreement with Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings to share capital-management knowledge and has proposed similar agreements with China’s state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

The new agency is ready to take over management of the 19 state-owned enterprises from Oct. 1, said CMSC Chairman Nguyen Hoang Anh, with the potential to take on more in the future. ($1 = 23,325.0000 dong)

Reporting by Mai Nguyen Editing by David Goodman

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