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By Mi Nguyen
HANOI, Nov 10 (Reuters) - An overseas institutional investor paid $395.8 million on Friday to buy 3.33 percent of Vietnamese dairy firm Vinamilk, the country’s biggest listed company, the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange said on its website.
The stake sale, part of the Vietnam government’s plan to divest state-owned enterprises, reduced its ownership in Vinamilk to 36 percent, enough to retain veto rights.
The exchange did not name the investor, which won the auction after bidding 186,000 dong ($8.19) per share. Analysts said this was much higher than the minimum price set earlier by Vietnam’s state investment firm SCIC, which supervised the stake sale.
SCIC deputy director Nguyen Chi Thanh said in an online statement that the sale was “successful beyond expectation”.
The share sale met high demand from 19 investors in Vietnam and overseas, after the state investor removed some of the restrictions applied to a similar sale last year.
Vinamilk is among a handful of state assets to attract significant interest from foreign investors as the government works to reform state-owned enterprises. The list includes top brewers Habeco and Sabeco, where privatisation progress has been slow.
“The share price was very high in comparison to others in Vietnam’s stock market. But this deal would be beneficial for setting prices of other stake sales such as Sabeco and Habeco,” said Nguyen The Minh, a deputy research director at Saigon Securities Incorp.
Vinamilk shares hit an all-time high of 173,800 dong in trading on Friday.
The company said its Q3 net profit rose 5.46 percent from a year earlier to 2.69 trillion dong ($118.4 million). ($1 = 22,713 dong) (Reporting by Mi Nguyen; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Adrian Croft)