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Singapore's GIC leads US$500 million investment in Vietnam's VCM

By Asia Asset Management  
September 11, 2019

Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd led a consortium that paid US$500 million for an unspecified minority stake in Vietnamese retailer VCM Services and Trading Development Joint Stock Company.

Hanoi-based VCM operates the Vinmart retail chain and is a unit of Vingroup Joint Stock Company, Vietnam's largest publicly listed firm.

Vingroup, which owned 64% of VCM before the deal, will remain the majority owner, GIC says in a statement on September 9.

“As a long-term investor, GIC is confident in the growth outlook for disposable incomes and household consumption in Vietnam,” the fund says.

GIC did not identify the seller of the VCM stake or the other members of the consortium. Spokespersons for GIC told Asia Asset Management that they had nothing further to add to the statement.

GIC has been an active investor in Vietnam in recent years. In January, it teamed up with Japan's Mizuho Bank Ltd to acquire 111.11 million new shares in Hanoi-based lender Vietcombank for $265 million.

Last year, GIC acquired around 7% of Vinhomes for $850 million when the latter’s parent company Vingroup spun off the property development firm in an initial public offering.

GIC also paid undisclosed amounts for minority stakes in conglomerate Masan Group, low-cost carrier Vietjet Aviation, and technology firm FPT Group over the last two years.

The investments are part of the fund’s broader push to diversify in Southeast Asia and beyond. As at March 31, 20% of its investments were in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, up from 19% a year ago.

“GIC’s portfolio’s asset allocation is constructed to achieve an appropriate long-term balance of risk and return, the geographical distribution of the portfolio is fluid and depends primarily on market capacity, economic cycles and investment opportunities,” the fund states in its latest annual report published in July.

GIC does not publicly disclose its assets data. According to the Sovereign Wealth Centre, the fund had $510 billion of assets under management as of end-March 2019.