Thailand: Central ‘eyeing Vietnamese mall operator’

Thailand’s Central Group is said to be a possible candidate to acquire a stake in the shopping mall arm of Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, five sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Vincom Retail, Vietnam’s biggest shopping mall operator, which is nearly 60% controlled by Vingroup, commands a market value of US$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 was 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 merger and acquisition transactions in Vietnam in recent years.

The talks come as Vingroup, whose businesses range from real estate and resorts to automobiles, is pouring in billions of dollars as it races to develop loss-making VinFast, its fledgling electric vehicle maker, and expand in the United States.

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 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 is in talks to sell property assets worth roughly copy.5 billion to the 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.

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