Strong measures are being proposed to put struggling Vinalines, once a leading player in the shipping business, back afloat, the Vietnam Investment Review reported.

In a recent document sent to the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) sought government approval for state-run Vinalines to scale down its holdings in the key ports of Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Da Nang and Saigon from a current 75 percent to 51 percent.

Similarly, Vinalines’ holdings in other ports including Can Tho, Nghe Tinh and Cam Ranh was proposed to be reduced from a current 75 percent to 49 percent, and the firm’s holding in Khuyen Luong and Nam Can ports would fall from 50-65 percent to below 50 percent.

The MoT also asked for Vinalines to entirely exit Nha Trang Port JSC.

Earlier, Vinalines claimed that the initial public offering (IPO) for its four major ports in Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Nha Trang and Da Nang had generated modest income, as only 5 percent of the available shares were sold, a fifth of the target.

Vinalines’ General Director Le Anh Son attributed the poor IPO result to overly high state capital stakes in the firms, which had discouraged investors.

Son expected that the shares in port businesses retained by Vinalines would become more appealing to investors if the MoT proposal to lower state ownership in these ports was approved.

“Our firm expects to garner 2 trillion VND (96 million USD) to feed financial restructuring and at the same time bolster the management efficiency of these ports,” Son was quoted by the VIR as saying.

In parallel to lowering state ownership in port businesses, the MoT also proposed taking stronger action to deal with Vinalines’ underperforming member units.

The MoT has proposed Ca Mau Shipbuilding Industry Limited go bankrupt, increasing the number of Vinalines’ members to go bust in the upcoming time to three, including Vinashinlines, Falcon and Ca Mau Shipbuilding Industry Limited.

Three other members were proposed to be dismantled instead of divested from. They were Ben Dinh-Sao Mai Port Development JSC, Vinalines training college and ship repair firm Vinalines-Dong Do Limited.

Loss-making Northern Shipping and Dong Do Marine will be downsized in terms of state ownership following a Vinalines proposal, with the state stake in these firms falling from above 50 percent to less than half.

According to Son, the three issues of foremost importance to Vinalines at present were market expansion, equitising the Vinalines parent company and debt rescheduling.

In terms of debts, the company reportedly received approval from several creditors to convert its debts into creditor capital holdings in the company, a move that would offer the firm a new way out of its current problems.-VNA