MPI: the State to withdraw its capital from Vinamilk

Foreign investors now stand a chance of becoming Vinamilk’s shareholders as the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) has confirmed the State will disinvest from the dairy producer.

The government has released decree No 60 allowing foreign investors to hold up to 100 percent of stake in Vietnamese enterprises in unconditional business fields.

Vinamilk, the nation’s leading dairy producer, yields high profits for its shareholders. 

Vinamilk’s financial report shows that the company’s revenue in the first quarter of 2015 increased by 13 percent over the same period last year to VND8.7 trillion. As the capital cost increase was lower, the gross profit increased by 28 percent, reaching VND3.1 trillion.

However, it was nearly impossible to buy Vinamilk’s shares because of the two barriers. Vinamilk’s existing shareholders, including the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC), did not want to sell shares. 

Meanwhile, under the old regulations, foreigners could not hold more than 49 percent of the company’s shares, which meant that there was completely no more room for foreigners.

However, the two barriers both have been removed. With Decree No 60, foreigners are allowed to hold up to 100 percent of shares in Vinamilk, because dairy production is not a conditional business field which the state has to invest in.

After Decree No 60 was released, Mai Kieu Lien, Vinamilk’s CEO, said she “did not see any problems if foreign investors hold 100 percent of Vinamilk’s stake”, because dairy production is not a special business field.

However, Lien’s statement was not enough to assure investors of their opportunities to acquire Vinamilk’s shares, especially after Lien resigned from the post of Vinamilk’s chair, though she is still the company’s CEO. 

Mai Kieu Lien is a famous businesswoman not only in Vietnam, but also well known in Asia and the world. CNBC newswire calls Lien ‘Dairy Queen’ and the Vietnamese Margaret Thatcher because the iron woman deserves credit for turning Vinamilk into a strong brand.  

SCIC, a state-owned enterprise, is still the largest shareholder of Vinamilk with 45.08 percent of shares, and it does not intend to sell the shares because the profit is worth trillions of dong a year. 

This was one of the reasons behind the confrontation between SCIC and small shareholders in Vinamilk.

“There’s no need for the State to keep investment in Vinamilk and we agree that the State will disinvest from the enterprise,” said Dang Huy Dong, MPI Deputy Minister at an M&A forum.

Dong said that the company’s shareholders will determine the capital disinvestment process. However, SCIC in several days will have to submit a plan to gradually withdraw capital from Vinamilk.