Vietnam – Automotive Industry – What Must Be Done Urgently:



The Vietnamese vehicle market is not one of the biggest in ASEAN. Up to now, the domestic demands were provided with local suppliers, but due to the AFTA tariff elimination in 2018 and the import of vehicle manufactured in ASEAN (Thailand, Indonesia) in a foreseeable future, the development of local industry could be slowed down.

The development of the automotive supply chain in Vietnam implies the expansion of the domestic market and more precisely the increase of the domestic demands and suppliers. The supply chain involves multi-layered suppliers, as thousands of parts are needed to manufacture vehicles.

Since the local industry is composed of smaller businesses, fewer economies of scale are made and it appears more difficult for both local and foreign suppliers to meet the quality/cost/delivery (QCD) requirements. In addition, other requirements such as Research and Development (R&D) are necessary to keep up with the market, the purchasers’ needs and to maintain a continuous growth of sales.

Nevertheless, not all requirements are expected from suppliers, as it depends on their position in the supply chain. Currently, Vietnamese suppliers have to meet QCD requirements but, as they are not always fulfilled, local production still relies on imported parts. The development of local production may not prosper without resolving first the issue of insufficient capability of local suppliers.

Thus, regarding the changes Vietnam is about to face, market policies such as registration tax should be upheld and policies on local production should be clarified. A task force devoted to policies improvement would hasten the process.

Moreover, knowledge of foreign suppliers’ knowledges could benefit local ones and should be promoted through technology assistance and cooperation organization. By sharing foreign expertise with local suppliers, we obtain a win-win solution: foreign suppliers or original equipment manufacturers win in terms of competitiveness and local suppliers win in terms of knowledge.

Outlook on the EVFTA

The EVFTA signed on December 2nd 2015 opens new opportunities for both Vietnamese and European markets. As European companies are among leaders in the automotive industry, Vietnam offers a unique opportunity to extend to a promising market in South East Asia. Indeed, domestic demands are growing and expected to rise from 300,000 to 1,5 million cars sold by 2025. This can be explained by Vietnam’s young population – half is under thirty years old – and constant need of new industrial products. Human resource is one of Vietnam’s great advantages due to its young population and fast-growing middle class.

The most important issues

–      Local suppliers are not ready yet to take over the automotive supply chain and still need foreign suppliers to teach them the know-how and to meet with the standard requirements.

–      The policies are not conceived to promote local production and should be reviewed to open the market even more before the AFTA enters into force (2018).

–      Competition within the ASEAN will shake the local production and it is important for Vietnam to oblige domestic suppliers to meet with strict requirements as to prevent foreign and local demands from turning to foreign suppliers.


Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you!”


Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Public mergers and acquisitions: market analysis overview

Largest / most noteworthy public M&A transactions in the past 12 months
Noteworthy public M&A transactions include the following:
• In May 2015, Sai GonThuong Tin Commercial Joint Stock Bank (more commonly known as Sacombank) merged with Southern Commercial Joint Stock Bank. Following the merger, Southern Bank shareholders obtained a 0.75 Sacombank share for each share they held. The merged entity, to be called Sacombank, will have a charter capital of more than VND18.85 trillion (US$856 million) and total assets of over VND290.86 trillion (US$13.2 billion). Sacombank’s shareholders agreed to the merger by a 93.7% vote.
• In May 2015, the merger between the Mekong Housing Bank and the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam was completed.
• In May 2015, the Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank) merged with Petrolimex Group Commercial Joint Stock Bank (PG Bank). The change rate for PG Bank shares to Vietinbank shares was 1:0.9, which means Vietinbank exchanged 270 million of its shares for 300 million of PG Bank shares. The merger increased Vietinbank’s total assets by VND25 trillion (US$1.19 billion) to VND685 trillion (US$31.7 billion), and its chartered capital by VND3 trillion (US$142.86 million) to more than VND40 trillion (US$1.85 billion).
• In May 2015, Credit Saison spent about JPY5 billion to take a 49% stake in HDFinance, Vietnam’s third largest consumer finance business.
• In August 2015, the Mekong Development Bank (MDB) was set to merge with the Vietnam Maritime Commercial Bank (Maritime Bank) to form an institution that would be among the country’s five largest banks in terms of charter capital. Currently, Maritime Bank’s charter capital is US$373.8 million and MDB’s is US$175.23 million, meaning that the new banking institution would have a charter capital of US$549 million and total assets of US$5.28 billion.
Retail.Noteworthy public M&A deals include the following:
• On 29 April 2016, Thailand’s Central Group bought Big C from Casino at a value of USD1.14 billion.
• In June 2015, WarbusPincus invested $100 million into Vincom Retail and still remained as a minority shareholder.
Food. Noteworthy deals include the following:
• In May 2015, Masan Group acquired 52% of the total shares in Vietnam French Cattle Feed JSC (Proconco). The acquisition occurred when the group bought 99.99% of the total shares in Sam Kim Limited Liability Company and renamed it Masan Nutri-Science Company.
• In May 2015, Filipino firm Pilmico Foods Corporation acquired some feed companies in Vietnam in an expansion bid. Pilmico, a subsidiary of the Aboitiz Group, had bought 70% of the total shares in VinhHoan 1 Feed JSC (VHF) at US$28 million in 2014.
• In July 2015, Mondelēz International completed the acquisition of 80% of the total shares in Kinh Do Corporation, a popular snack business in Vietnam, for about US$370 million.
• On 30 June 2016, Masan Nutri-Science Joint Stock Company bought additionally 30% of Agricultural Nutrition Joint Stock Company, leading to its 100% ownership in the company.
Real estate. Noteworthy deals include the following:
• In May 2015, Duc Long Gia Lai obtained 97.73% of Mass Noble with a transaction value of $11.7 million.
• In June 2015, 89.42% of Vefac was acquired by VinGroup, although the total transaction value was not disclosed.
• In June 2015, Gaw Capital Partners (GCP), the Hong Kong-based private equity firm, acquired an existing portfolio of real estate projects in Vietnam. The portfolio was purchased for US$106 million and is comprised of four of the remaining projects originally held under Indochina Land Holdings 2 Ltd.
• In June 2015, an acquisition between Muong Thanh hospitality and Phuong Dong hotel was completed. Muong Thanh hospitality acquired 100% of Phuong Dong hotel, a part of the Phuong Dong Petroleum Tourism JSC.
• At the beginning of July 2015, Gamuda Land Vietnam, a division of Malaysian property developer GamudaBerhad acquired Celadon City from the Saigon Thuong Tin Real Estate JSC (Sacomreal) and the Thanh Thanh Cong JSC (TTC) for an estimated VND1.4 trillion (US$64.1 million). The estimated original investment is VND24.8 trillion (US$1.1 billion).
• In 2015, Vingroup has become a dominant local M&A acquirer with a long list of transactions in the real estate, retail and logistics sectors. Its most notable additions include:
o Masteri Thao Dien for US$75 million;
o 30% stake ownership in Vinatex for US$26 million;
o 90% stake ownership in Giang Vo Trade Show Center for US$69 million; and
o 30% stake ownership in Hop Nhat Express for US$52 million.
• In December 2015, VinGroup acquired 100% of Hoa Huong Duong company with the deal value of US$252 million. This transaction has also made VinGroup the holder of 98.3% of Vinaconex-Viettel as this company is a subsidiary of Hoa Huong Duong.
• In March 2016, Lotte bought 70% of the total shares of Diamond Plaza in Ho Chi Minh from Posco. Deal value was not disclosed.
• In April 2016, Muong Thanh Corporation bought 95% of the total shares of Cienco 5 Land at the value of VND3,500 billion.

• In April 2016, the merger between ACE Life and Chubb Life was completed, with ACE Life changing its name into Chubb Life in Vietnam.
• Two months later, FWD insurance company, a branch of Pacific Century, started the process of acquiring Great Eastern Vietnam after receiving the license for this acquisition.
The major trends in the structuring of public M&A transactions
In Vietnam, M&A transactions usually take the form of either share or asset acquisitions, with share acquisition transactions outnumbering asset acquisition transactions.
Share acquisitions by foreign purchasers are commonly structured as offshore direct investments. The new investor can:
• Acquire shares or capital contributions from an existing shareholder in the target (for example, a joint stock company, limited liability company, and so on).
• Subscribe for newly issued shares of the target (for a joint stock company).
• Make further capital contributions to the target (for a limited liability company).
In the case of an asset deal, a foreign purchaser must generally establish a new subsidiary in Vietnam.
In addition, M&A transactions can also take the form of a merger. One or more companies of the same type can be merged into another company by transferring all assets, rights, obligations and interests to the merged company, terminating the existence of the merging company.
The 2014 Enterprise Law sets out the types of business structuring that can be used by investors as a result of M&A transactions. In addition, the 2014 Investment Law is the first law that regulates M&A transactions and clearly provides that such transactions do not require an investment registration certificate. Instead, if the target company operates in conditional business sectors applicable for foreign investors, or the investment leading to foreign ownership of the target company being 51% or more (in particular, from below 51% to more than 51% and from 51% to above 51%), the foreign investors must seek approval of the local Department of Planning and Investment of the transaction. In other cases, the target company only needs to register change of membership / shareholders at the Business Registration Division. This change has ended years of uncertainty and frustration faced by foreign investors seeking entry into the Vietnam market or expansion through M&A transactions.

The level/extent of private equity-backed bids in the past 12 months
Investment in the form of M&A transactions is still the most popular form compared with private equity investment. In recent months, private equity funds have been following the securities market in Vietnam, especially companies carrying out value chain operations. Consumer goods and infrastructure are the sectors that attract the most attention. However, due to limited publicly available information, it is not possible to fully assess the level of private equity-backed bids.

The approach of the competition regulator(s) in the past 12 months
The Vietnam Competition Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (VCA) must be notified of the transaction if participating companies have a combined market share in the relevant market of 30% up to 50%. The VCA will then examine whether the calculation of the combined market share is correct and whether the transaction is prohibited (that is, whether the combined market share exceeds 50%, except in certain cases). The transaction can be conducted when the VCA issues a written confirmation that the transaction is not prohibited under competition law.
For more information on the VCA, see

Main factors affecting the public M&A market over the next 12 months
The country’s deeper and wider integration into the world’s economy is offering new opportunities for M&A activities.
Another factor is the Government’s being put under high pressure to privatize State-owned enterprises to meet requirements under signed trade pacts, especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Encouraging signs for foreign investment include:
• Economic recovery.
• Reformed policies to allow wider access to foreign investors.
• Formation of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015.
• The conclusion of free trade agreements (FTAs) and the TPP.
• The bouncing back of the stock market.
• New regulations that increase the authorised levels of foreign investment in public listed companies.
The introduction of the new Investment Law, Enterprise Law and other laws and policies are creating an improved legal environment for investment and trade in general, and the M&A market in particular. However, the following factors also affect M&A transactions:
• Divergent interpretations and implementations by local licensing authorities of international treaties such as Vietnam’s WTO Commitments.
• Different licensing procedures applied to different types of transactions (for example, for foreign invested companies and domestic companies, public companies and private companies, and for buying state-owned shares or private shares).
Although legal and governance barriers, along with macro instability and the lack of market transparency are still the greatest concerns for investors, M&A deals in Vietnam are still expected to be one of the key, effective channels for market entry.
The major expected trends in the Vietnam M&A market include:
• Bank restructurings.
• Acquisitions and anti-acquisitions, especially in the real estate sector.
• Growing Japanese and Thai investment in Vietnam through M&A transactions.
• Reform of SoEs.
The derivatives market is expected to open in 2016, which will help in preventing risks, boosting the growth of the stock market and in promoting M&A deals.

Please do contact the author Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam

Mining in Vietnam – And the Message is:Better Transparency on Fee and Tax Management by Authorities

The economy of Vietnam is heavily dependent on the mining industry. Using modern, high technology in mining was emphasized by Directive No. 2/CT-TTg of January 2012 and Decree No. 15/2015/ND-CP and during a visit by the Prime Minister to Australia. However, the legislation governing the mining sector seem unfriendly to both foreign and local investors, especially concerning the high royalty rates and other taxes and fees, particularly:

Payment for mining rights: Under Decree No. 203/2013/ND-CP, mining companies have to make a payment between 1-5% of the original value of the original ore to get mineral exploitation rights before receiving licenses. This fee is impractical and will deter foreign companies from investing in the mining industry. The reason behind is that in this period, they must spend a lot on exploitation and mining construction without any revenue. Accordingly, they will seek to reduce their investment in mining technologies to pay for such fee. Consequently, advanced and environmentally friendly technology is not used by mining companies for exploitation, resulting in economic inefficiency. In light of the above, the Government should amend the Decree to allow such fee to be paid on an annual basis after the mining companies make revenue.
Environmental protection fee: Circular No. 158/2011/TT-BTC imposes the environmental protection fee on the basis of “the quantity of crude metal mineral ores actually exploited”. The calculation of such fee is only based on the mineral output without taking into account the level of pollution caused by each mine. This regulation is not fair because mining companies using advanced technology to limit impacts on the environment and those which are using cheap technology and destroying the environment must pay the same fee. It will discourage mining companies from investing in modern machinery and technology to protect the environment. The Circular should be amended to reflect the fee calculated in proportion to the levels of pollution caused by mining exploitation.
Royalty tariff on minerals: Under Resolution No. 712/2013/UBTVQH13, the natural resources tax has considerably increased for many types of minerals such as wolfram (18%), titanium (16%), copper (13%), iron (12%), etc. Although the natural resources tax for gold, silver, alumina and bauxite, tin, lead and zinc was not increased but was subject to 10% royalty tariff. Moreover, the Ministry of Finance proposes increasing tax on exploitation of natural resources for almost minerals at 15-50% from 1 January 2016. This has increased the tax burden on the mining companies and it is likely that they will be liquidated. Therefore, the Government should support this industry by postponing the tax increase.
Corporate income tax for mining enterprises: Decree No. 122/ND-CP amending and supplementing a number of articles of the Government’s Decree No. 124/2008/ND-CP detailing and guiding the implementation of a number of articles of the Law on Enterprise Income Tax No. 14/2008/QH12 reduced Corporate Income Tax for all companies to 25% except for mining of precious and rare natural resources which are currently fixed at 50%. Under this Decree, the rate will be reduced to 40%, more than 70% of the mine areas located in difficult social-economic areas. The Decree also confirmed that mineral exploitation activities do not enjoy other incentives of the enterprise income tax.

Although the royalties, fees and taxes of the mining operations in Vietnam are high, but the ways they are collected and spent afterwards are not transparent. The business community is not informed of fee management. The environmental protection fee must be used to recover the environment at the mining areas, however, the mining companies have to pay a fee for this. The Government should publicize information on licensing and financial obligations of the applicants for mining operations and fee management.
Additionally, the Government should not raise taxes at this period because an increase in tax and mining right fee will cause a reduction in investment of the mining companies in the technology. Accordingly, they will use cheap machinery and technology for their mining exploitation activities and this goes contrary to the Prime Minister’s Directive.
In conclusion, in order to encourage more investments in mineral exploitation operations and use of advanced and environmental friendly technology for mining industry, the Government should control the tax collection instead of raising taxes and provide transparency on fee and tax management.


Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.



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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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