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In Vietnam, a shipping line raises alarm over debt (SOEs)

Jun 26, 2012. Shipping line Vinalines once symbolised the postwar promise of Vietnam when it began jockeying for global trade after the United States lifted sanctions on its former enemy in 1994.

Today, it represents all that has gone wrong since then: a bloated behemoth with 18,000 workers, a fleet of loss-making ships and $ 2.1 billion in debt. In recent weeks, two senior executives have been arrested, its former chairman is on the run, and the firm has become a byword for mismanagement.

Vinalines and other debt-ridden state companies are turning into a big test of the government’s graft-fighting credentials and whether Communist-run Vietnam is likelier to reclaim its status as a star among emerging markets or sink deeper into an economic malaise rooted in a state sector plagued by red ink and cronyism.

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