May 16, 2019 / 6:44 AM / a month ago

SK Group invests $1 billion in Vingroup as part of Vietnam expansion

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s chips-to-energy conglomerate SK Group has agreed to buy 6.1% of Vietnam’s largest firm, Vingroup JSC VIC.HM, for $1 billion as it expands its investments in the Southeast Asian country.

Vietnam has one of the region’s fastest-growing economies, backed by robust exports and foreign investment.

Last year, SK bought 9.5% of Vietnam’s second-biggest conglomerate Masan Group Corp MSN.HM for $470 million.

SK Group in a statement on Thursday said it will actively seek new business opportunities in Vietnam as a strategic investor in conglomerate Vingroup.

“Vingroup and SK Group intend to enter into future joint strategic investments that will leverage on each party’s expertise and enhance both groups’ ability to serve the Vietnamese market and the region,” both companies said in a statement.

Vingroup, once a real estate and retail conglomerate, has grown to become Vietnam’s largest listed firm with a market capitalisation of more than $16 billion. The company recently launched its first smartphones and cars, and is looking to foray into artificial intelligence.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.

Credit Suisse acted as the sole advisor to Vingroup.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Hyunjoo Jin in SEOUL; Additional reporting by Khanh Vu in HANOI; Editing by Anshuman Daga

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