Exclusive: Vietnam's Vincom Retail in stake sale talks with strategic investors - sources

A woman walks past Vincom center in Hanoi
A woman walks past Vincom center in Hanoi January 15, 2015. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

SINGAPORE/HANOI, March 29 (Reuters) - Vietnam's largest conglomerate, Vingroup (VIC.HM), is in discussions to sell a stake in its shopping mall arm as it seeks to bring in strategic investors, five sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Vincom Retail (VRE.HM), Vietnam's biggest shopping mall operator, which is nearly 60% controlled by Vingroup, commands a market value of $2.8 billion.

The sources said Thailand's biggest retailer Central Group and other companies are in negotiations to buy a stake in Vincom Retail.

Three of the sources said Vingroup is open to selling a majority stake but no final decision has been taken and discussions with potential buyers are ongoing.

Vingroup and Central Group declined to comment.

The sources declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the mater.

Based on Vincom Retail's current market value, a potential deal for a majority stake could mark one of the largest M&A transactions in Vietnam in recent years.

The talks come as Vingroup, whose businesses are spread across real estate, resorts to automobiles, is pouring in billions of dollars as it races to develop loss-making VinFast, its fledgling electric vehicle car maker, and expand in the U.S.

VinFast delivered its first 45 cars to customers in California this month, its first sales outside Vietnam, capping a five-year bid to develop an auto production hub in the Southeast Asian country for markets in North America and Europe.

Reuters reported earlier this month, citing sources familiar with the matter, that Vingroup's property arm Vinhomes (VHM.HM) is in talks to sell property assets worth roughly $1.5 billion to Asian real estate giant CapitaLand Group.

Vincom Retail owns 83 shopping malls in Vietnam - a country that grew at 8% last year and emerged as Asia's fastest growing economy. The company's shares have gained 11% so far this year versus a 5% rise in the benchmark stock index (.VNI).

Vincom Retail, which was spun off from Vingroup, listed on the local stock exchange in 2017.

($1 = 23,485.0000 dong)

Reporting by Yantoultra Ngui and Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE, Phuong Nguyen in HANOI; Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng in BANGKOK; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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Yantoultra Ngui is a Southeast Asia Deals Correspondent with Reuters in Singapore, covering M&A and capital market deals in a region that is fast emerging as a hot destination for startup investors, unicorns and IPOs. He previously was a reporter at Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. Notably, he was part of WSJ's team that covered the financial scandal at Malaysian state fund 1MDB. Yantoultra graduated with an MBA in Finance from Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2010.