Public opinion in the Tien Giang province has recently stirred over concerns that the State’s entire stake at the Tien Giang Tourism Joint Stock Company has been bought up by a US-based company, for the VND7.5 billion (US$394.7 million), a price local residents consider dirt-cheap, a SGGP inquiry has found.
In November 2004, the Tien Giang province People’s Committee issued a decision on evaluating the Tien Giang Tourism Company to prepare for its equitization. Accordingly, the company was evaluated at VND19 billion, of which the State owned more than VND6 billion.
The company’s fixed estates at that time included Song Tien Restaurant-Hotel; Huong Duong, Trung Luong, Cuu Long, and Huong Bien restaurants; Thoi Son Tourism Zone, and some others.
On January 1, 2005, the provincial People’s Committee decided to transmute the company into the Tien Giang Tourism Joint Stock Company, which had a charter capital of VND7 billion, with the State owning 51 percent.
|Trung Luong restaurant, one of the affiliates of the Tien Giang Tourism Joint Stock Company, whose privatization process has caused queries among the public. (Photo: SGGP)|
Four years later, in January 2009, the An Binh Securities Joint Stock Company, the consultant in the auction of shares at the Tien Giang Tourism Company, announced that the State reduced its stake, now accounting for just 30 percent of the company’s capital.
Public opinion raised a question: “Where has a 21 percent stake gone to?”
The public was more doubt when two months later, the 30-percent stake of the State, or 210,000 shares worth VND2.1 billion, was put up for auction at a initial price of VND31,000 per share.
Public opinion queries about the change in shareholdings were not answered until the chairman of the US-based Rare Antibody Antigen Supply, Inc. (RASS), Hoang Kieu, recently talked with reporters, announcing himself as the chairman of the Tien Giang Tourism Joint Stock Company. This revelation took place at a press conference discussing whether Tien Giang or Khanh Hoa province would host the Miss World 2010 contest.
On May 7, 2010, Tien Giang Province’s My Tho City Party Committee Secretary Huynh Duc Minh, said to SGGP: “When I met local voters, they raised questions about whether the company was sold to Mr. Kieu for only VND7.5 billion.”
“After that I raised this issue at a recent meeting of the province’s People’s Council, but the council said it will reply to my question at its next meeting,” Mr. Minh said.
The public’s main question is what the company’s worth was evaluated to be and whether it has been sold for just VND7.5 billion.
SGGP also found that early this year the Tien Giang Tourism Joint Stock Company issued a document requesting a premises at 105 Trung Trac, ward 1, My Tho City be handed over to it.
The building functioned as the office of the Environment and Natural Resource Technical Center under the provincial Natural Resource and Environment Department.
The company argued that in 2000, the provincial authorities agreed to allocate the property to the company for the purposes of expanding the Song Tien Hotel.
The company said it would pay VND410 million ($21,600) to relocate the center in another building for three years. It also said it wanted to see the premises handed over as soon as possible.
Following the company’s request, the department has released an official letter saying that the province agreed in 2000 to allocate the premises to the company since at that time, it was a State-owned company, not a totally privately-owned joint stock company as it is presently organized.