Sources said the stake sale could fetch as much as $US700 million ($932m) and that the sale proceeds would be used to fund more power projects.

Phan Dang Tuat, head of Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Enterprise Reform Commission, told The Wall Street Journal the government was seeking strategic investors for PetroVietnam Power, and that the government could ultimately reduce its stake to less than 50 per cent.

Foreign investors are looking to buy more assets in Vietnam, which is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Vietnam benefits from a young population and a booming export sector that is taking business from higher-cost countries, particularly China. The country’s stockmarket was one of the best performing in Asia last year, with the benchmark index up almost 15 per cent.

Vietnam’s government has accelerated plans to sell state-owned assets ranging from breweries to a milk producer. Investors have been eager to bid for these assets, which benefit from the country’s growing consumer spending.

“Vietnam is speeding up its process of restructuring state-owned enterprises, and selling a stake in PetroVietnam Power is part of that process,” Mr Tuat said.

Last month, the government invited global investment banks to bid for a role in selling a stake in the country’s largest brewer, Sai­gon Beer Alcohol Beverage, or ­Sabeco, which has a market cap of $US6 billion. Mr Tuat said last month that the sale process of ­Sabeco would begin in April.

In addition, the government is also looking to sell its stake of almost 82 per cent in another beer company, Hanoi Beer Alcohol & Beverage Joint Stock, or Habeco, which is the country’s third-largest brewer. Habeco’s shares are set to begin trading on the local stock exchange this week.

In December, the government — which holds 45 per cent of Vietnam Dairy Products JSC, the country’s largest-listed company, with a market capitalisation of $US8.2bn — sold a portion of its stake to Singapore-listed food and beverage company Fraser & Neave for $US501.6m.

PetroVietnam Power is a unit of the country’s largest state-owned oil-and-gas company, PetroVietnam. PetroVietnam Power is the second-largest power producer in the country after Electricity of Vietnam Group.

PetroVietnam Power’s electricity output was 21.2 billion kilowatt hours last year, accounting for 12 per cent of the country’s total.

The company targets total revenue of 29 trillion dong ($1.72bn) this year, up 9.3 per cent.

By P.R. Venkat & Vu Trong Khanh - The Wall Street Journal - January 18, 2017