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Capital Markets and Securities

Ownership by foreign investors in listed companies is limited to 49% of their share capital, or 30% in respect of listed commercial banks.

The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HOSE) and the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HANX) remain in their early stages of development, and their inherently huge potential remains to a large extent unrealised to date.

Vietnam’s debt market is still comparatively small, and is hampered by low liquidity and a lack of solid international credit ratings. There is no clear and specific government bond auction schedule, and the market is often characterised by a lack of coherence and organisation. Taxes levied on 10 basis points (bps) transactions create an unfortunate barrier to foreign investors, who may otherwise inject much-needed funds to the market. With respect to corporate bonds, the market remains in its early stages of development, although recent times have seen numerous fixed coupon, zero coupon, and convertible bond issuances in which issuers are trying to access funding without having to pay high interest rates (via bank lending) or having to concede substantial equity third party participations via private placements.

Despite legal requirements to the contrary, many public companies in Vietnam fall short in achieving compliance with disclosure and corporate governance regulations. The State Securities Commission is continuing to work towards the enhancement of supervision and the imposition of sanctions for violations in the disclosure and corporate governance areas, in order to pursue the levels of transparency necessary for Vietnam’s capital markets to advance.

Recent Work

  • Acting as the local Vietnam counsel for a US$401 million infrastructure fund’s listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange.
  • Advising a lender in relation to the restructuring of a debt owed by a very large state-owned enterprise in Vietnam which was supported by an international bond issuance.
  • Acting for a leading Singapore-based investment fund in its proposed acquisition of a strategic stake in a large, listed sugar company and related manufacturing entities in Vietnam.
  • Acting for a large global venture capital fund in respect of its acquisition of a strategic equity stake in one of Vietnam’s leading internet services companies.
  • Advising a Hong Kong based private equity fund on the acquisition of shares in a leading Vietnamese pharmaceutical company in the securities market via the HCMC Stock Exchange.
  • Acting for one of Europe’s largest financial institutions in relation to its proposed investment in a high profile publicly listed Vietnamese company (which was a former state owned enterprise (SOE)).
  • Acting for one of Vietnam’s largest SOE’s with diversified interests in upstream and downstream oil and gas, energy production, real estate, transportation and financial services, in regard to the SOE’s proposed international corporate bond issue.
  • Advising a non-Vietnam domiciled mining company on the Vietnam aspects of a convertible debt finance facility with offshore lenders and related issues on the perfection and enforcement of security interests in Vietnam.
  • Acting for a large international investment fund in its subscription for a “strategic shareholder” stake in an equitising (privatising) SOE operating primarily in the maritime transport sector.