The equitisation and reform of State owned enterprises (SOE’s) in Vietnam commenced in the mid-1990s but without a clear roadmap or specific timetable. It gained increased impetus about a decade later when some of the major SOEs were equitised. Privatisation in the banking and telecom sectors has been slow. The potential inherent in the equitisation of SOE’s in Vietnam remains largely unrealised.
Ownership by foreign investors in listed companies is limited to 49% of their share capital, or 30% in respect of listed commercial banks.
After an initial period of hype and excitement subsequent to the Government’s announcement of planned equitisations, the reality has proved to be somewhat beneath expectations. Successful equitisations have, unfortunately, been few and far between, and those that have been implemented have been implemented on a significantly smaller scale than the foreign investment community may have hoped.
Coming off the back of a difficult economic year in 2012, the Government announced plans for hundreds of equitisations to be implemented over five years, commencing in 2013. This should hopefully present some excellent opportunities for foreign investors, and provide much-needed stimulus to the Vietnam economy.
Welcome legislative reforms have arrived, and more are expected, which will hopefully bring greater clarity and transparency to the equitisation process, and bolster foreign investor interest in the Vietnam market.
Participation in equitisations, particularly as a foreign strategic investor, is never easy, and the legislative and regulatory playing field still has some distance to go before it is clear, well-defined, and easily understandable. We draw your attention to a legal update which we have previously prepared on the Equitisation process. Please click here if you would like to read this summary. The importance of quality legal advice, and assistance from professionals who have closely followed equitisations since the concept of equitisations first arose in Vietnam in the mid-1990s, cannot be underestimated.
Advising on the proposed acquisition by a foreign party interest in one of the telecommunications state owned enterprises, which is up for potential equitisation.
Advising in relation to the selection of a strategic partner for a 100% state-owned telecoms company holding licenses for fixed, wireless services (WLL), long distance and international telephony, data, internet and mobile telephony services.
Advising a listed Vietnamese company on a share sale and purchase transaction.
Acting as Vietnam legal advisor in relation to the proposed acquisition of a state owned insurance company which was to be equitised. Specifically, the Transaction consisted of undertaking a legal due diligence review of the target company and overview of the Vietnamese regulatory framework to assist the client in making an informed assessment of its proposed investment.
Advising a multinational insurance company in relation to a potential acquisition in a listed Vietnamese insurance joint stock company (which was formerly a SOE).
Acting for a major Hong Kong-based private equity fund in relation to its successful bidding and subscription for a “strategic shareholder” stake in Vietnam’s largest State-owned maritime transportation and logistics enterprise.