ベトナムにおける弁護士 オリバー マスマン:一般企業のM&A

ベトナムが2007年に世界貿易機関(WTO)の正式メンバーとなってから、ベトナムにおけるM&A活動は着実に成長しています。最初のベトナムにおけるM&Aの波は2008年~2013年の期間に起こり、総価格は150億米ドルと報告されています。日本の投資家は2012年におよそ12億米ドル相当の取引をしています。日本は量及び価値の両方の面に関して、ベトナムのM&A取引のための主要国です。これにより2012年にベトナムのM&A市場が51億米ドルの最高額に達しました。不動産はM&A取引の総価格が20件の取引で16億3700万米ドルまで達し、ベトナムの外国人投資家によるM&A価値は全体の69%を占め、最も魅力的な分野だと考えられています。小売、消費財、産業財及びサービス部門もまたM&A取引において高価値で非常に活発な分野となっています。

ストックプラス社が行った調査によると、ベトナムのM&A市場は2014年に大きく回復し毎週6件の取引が報告されています。2015年にはM&A取引が合計341件あり、価格が52億米ドルとなり、取引件数は23.1%増加し、前年と比べて取引価格が9.7%上昇しました。

株式会社のコントロールをする為には?

株式会社に対するコントロールを得るために最も一般的な方法は以下の通りです。

o 株式/定款資本の買収を通して

o 同社の既存株主から株式/定款資本を購入

o 証券取引所で上場企業の株式/定款資本を購入

o 公開株式購入オファー

o 合併を通して。2014年企業法では、合弁会社へ全ての合法的な資産、権利、義務そして利益を譲渡する方法で企業合弁する手順及び、合弁している企業の同時終了のための手順が述べられています。

o 資産の買収を通して

外国人投資家は地場企業の株式/定款資本の購入に対して制限があります。さらに、外国人投資家が当事者にあたる場合、合併または資産買収取引は法律で禁止されています。

公開企業の証券は取引前にベトナム証券保管振替機構にて登録及び保管しなければなりません。

株式数の購入に応じて、投資家は支配株主になることができます。ベトナム証券法に基づき、直接的、または間接的に発行機関の議決権株式を5%以上保有する株主は大株主になります。証券会社の払込み済み定款資本を10%以上保有する取引は国家証券委員会(SSC)の承認を求めなければなりません。

入札者が一般的に入札を行う前に疑問に思うこと

正式に可能性のある対象企業に連絡をする前に、入札者はに公に入手可能な情報をもとに事前評価を行います。入札者は次に対象企業へ連絡を取り、株式を購入/株式に応募する意向を表し、当事者はデューデリジェンスの前に機密保持契約を締結します。機密保持契約は原則的に取引を行う際の守秘義務を含みます。ベトナムの裁判所による機密保持契約の施行はまだ試されていないままです。

入札者の法的なデューデリジェンスは次の事項が含まれます。

  • 対象企業やその子会社、関連会社及び対象企業の一部である他企業の企業詳細
  • 偶発債務(過去または紛争中の訴訟)
  • 雇用問題
  • 対象企業の契約上の同意
  • 対象企業の事業活動に関しての法定の承認及び許可
  • 保険、税金、知的財産、債務及び土地関連の問題
  • 独占禁止、腐敗及びその他の規制問題

主要株主の株式譲渡に対する制限

創立株主は唯一企業登録証明書の発行から3年以内に会社の別の創立株主へ株式を譲渡することが出来ます。その後、株式を自由に譲渡することができます。株主総会での内部承認が常に必要な際は以下の場合です。

  • 企業が新株式を発行することにより資本を増加する場合。
  • 上記3年以内に創立株主の株式譲渡する場合。

販売及び購入が株式発行に関して企業と売り手の間で直接契約している場合、販売価格は販売時の市場価格よりも低く、あるいは市場価格が存在しない場合は株式を売るための計画承認時の株式の簿価よりも低くなくてはなりません。さらに、国内外のバイヤーに販売価格が同じでなければなりません。

公開買い付けが必要になる時?

公開買い付けは以下の場合必要となります。

  • 株式保有が無いあるいは25%以下の株式保有で、購入者が25%以上の株式を買収する企業の循環株の購入。
  • 25%以上の株式を保有し、(購入者の関連者など)購入者がさらに企業の循環株の10%以上を買収する企業の循環株の購入。
  • 25%以上の株式を保有し、(購入者の関連者など)購入者がさらに以前のオファーの完了日から1年未満に企業の現在の循環株の5~10%を買収する企業の循環株の購入。

金融派生商品を使用することによる利益構築に関するガイダンスはありません。さらに、入札者は公開買い付け期間中に株式を購入することや、購入権を外部提供者へ共有することはできません。

入札者は公開買い付けを電子新聞、新聞及び(上場企業の場合のみ)証券取引所の3連続版に、公開買い付けの登録に関する国家証券委員会(SSC)の意見を受理してから7日以内に公表しなければなりません。SSCが意見を提供し、入札者によって以下が公表された後に公開買い付けは実行されます。

入札を公開すること

申し込みタイムテーブルは以下の通りです。

  • 入札者は株式を購入するため公開入札の書類を準備します。
  • 入札者はSSCへ承認を得るために入札登録証を送り、同時に対象企業へ登録証を送ります。
  • SSCは7日以内に入札書類を確認します。
  • 対象企業の取締役会は入札書類の受領後から14日以内にSSC及び対象企業の株主へオファーに関する意見を渡さなければなりません。
  • 入札はマスコミへ公表されます。(法的要件ではありません)
  • 募集期間は30日~60日間です。
  • 入札者は完了してから10日以内にSSCへ入札の結果を報告します。

銀行や保険などの特定の分野における事業を行う企業は、異なるタイムテーブルを受けることができます。

対価の形と最低水準

ベトナムの法律に基づき、株式は現金、金、土地使用権、知的財産権、技術、技術的なノウハウやその他の資産を提供することにより購入することができます。実際に、買収は一般的に現金で行われています。

国営企業の完全買収の場合、株式購入の為の最初の支払いは該当株式の価格の70%以上で12ヶ月以内に残金を支払わなくてはなりません。

国営企業による株式の競売を含む譲渡において、購入者は対象企業の規定に含まれる入札日の最低5営業日前までに最低競売価格に基づいて購入予約の為、株式登録の価格の10%支払わなければなりません。

さらに、購入者は競売結果の発表10営業日以内に競売を行う機関の銀行口座へ株式の全報酬を譲渡しなれければなりません。

公開株式の場合、公開株式買い付け為に任命された証券代行会社による株式の支払い及び譲渡は政令58/2012/ND-CPに従って行われます。

企業の上場廃止

企業が自主的に上場を廃止する場合は、以下の書類を含む上場廃止に関する申請書を提出しなければなりません。

  • 上場廃止のための依頼書
  • 合弁会社の場合

o 株主総会で株式の上場廃止の承認

o 債券の上場廃止に関する取締役会の承認

o 転換社債の上場廃止に関する株主総会の承認

  • 債券の上場廃止に関する(複数人から構成される有限会社の)社員総会または(1人有限会社の)企業のオーナーの承認。
  • 証券投資ファンドに関しては、ファンドが持つ証券の上場廃止の投資家による議会承認。
  • 公共証券投資企業に関しては、株式上場廃止の株主総会の承認。

上場廃止が主要株主以外の議決権の50%以上で可決された株主総会の決定によって承認される場合、上場企業は唯一証券の上場廃止をすることができます。

企業が自主的にハノイ証券取引所またはホーチミン証券取引所へ上場廃止を申請する場合、上場廃止に関する申請書類は株主または投資家の利益への対応策を含めないといけません。それぞれハノイ証券取引所またはホーチミン証券取引所は有効な申請書類の受領から10~15日以内に上場廃止の為の要請を検討しなければなりません。

企業の株式売却に関する譲渡の支払い

売り手が個人か企業かによって次の税金が適用されます。

  • キャピタルゲイン税。キャピタルゲイン税は資本に対する投資家の実際の利益、あるいはその資本を購入するための費用を支払う外資企業及び地場企業は20%の法人税が対象になります。しかしながら、資産譲渡が証券の場合は外資企業の売り手は総譲渡価格の0.1%の法人税が対象になります。
  • 個人所得税。売り手が個人の居住者の場合、個人所得税は利益の20%が対象となり、もし資産譲渡が証券の場合販売価格の0.1%が対象です。所得税を支払う居住者は以下に定義された人です。

o 暦年内で183日以上ベトナムに滞在する人

o ベトナムで12ヶ月連続して滞在する人

o ベトナムで永住権を保有している人

o 課税年度中に賃貸契約に基づきベトナムで最低90日家を賃貸している人

売り手が個人で非居住者の場合、キャピタルゲイン税の有無に関係なく総譲渡価格の0.1%が個人所得税の対象となります。

上記の譲渡税の支払いはベトナムでは必須です。

規制当局の承認

投資家は下記のいずれかの場合、株式の出資及び購入の際に登録する必要があります。

  • 対象企業が2015年投資法で言及された267の条件付き分野の一つである場合。
  • 対象企業の定款資本の51%以上を保有する外国人投資家による株式の出資及び購入。(特に51%以下から51%以上、51%から51%以上になる場合)

対象企業が所在する現地の計画投資省では有効な登録申請の受理から15日以内に最終承認の発行をしなければなりません。しかしながら、実際にはこの手続きは特定中央当局の作業負荷及び不透明なガイダンスにより数ヶ月かかっています。従って、登録要件は全体のM&A手続きにかなりの遅れが生じる可能性があります。

他の例では、対象企業は企業登録部門で会員または株主の登録変更をする必要があります。

利益の本国送還または外資企業のための外国為替規制に関する制限

ベトナムにおける対象企業が既に投資証明書を保有している場合、ベトナムの許可銀行で直接投資資本勘定を開かなければなりません。外国人投資家による株式購入のための支払いはこの口座を通して行われます。この口座はベトナムドンまたは外貨建てで行えます。さらに、外国人投資家がオフショア投資家の場合は、ベトナムの商業銀行にて売り手の口座へ支払い及び利益を受け取るための資本口座を開設する必要があります。

ベトナムにおける対象企業が投資証明書を保有していない場合、外国人投資家は売り手への支払い及び利益の送金の為に間接投資資本勘定を開く必要があります。

〈ご注意〉こちらの記事は皆様に情報をお届けする目的でのみ作成・掲載しておりますので、法的なアドバイスとして提供・構成することを目的としておりません。詳細につきましては、当法律事務所の注意書きをご一読下さい。

オリバー・マスマンはドウェイン・モリス・ベトナム法律事務所のディレクターです。上記に関するご質問等はomassmann@duanemorris.comまでお気軽にご連絡ください。

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Why it is best to start preparing for transactions now in Vietnam ?

 

Vietnam has concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and the EU- Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (“EVFTA”). Meanwhile, the ASEAN Economic Community (“AEC”), which Vietnam became a full member in 1995, has been established since the end of 2015. With such deep integration into the multilateral and regional economy, Vietnam is expected to be an attractive investment environment for investors and witness a significant growth in the upcoming years.

Vietnam has made progress over 3 continuous years to reach 56th position in 2015 on the Global Competitiveness Index list, a jump of 12 positions compared to 2014. It is noteworthy that Vietnam is more competitive than 6 European Union countries on this list. Even more notably, 4 out of these 6 countries, namely Slovenia, Cyprus, Slovakia and Greece, are considered as advanced global economies, and have the GDP per capita of at least USD17,700, eight times more than Vietnam.

Samsung Electronics Company has decided to choose Vietnam as the Number 1 country to put their world largest mobile and tablet production and invested more than 6 Billion USD after a researching worldwide. Also major Japanese companies are convinced Vietnam is a top investment destination and become the largest investors in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese Government has made great attempts to develop itself by opening its economy to international trade, investments and free movement of people. The following section provides an overview of these free trade agreements and the AEC to help investors understand what is awaiting them ahead and decide their investment in Vietnam.

TPP

The TPP was originally known as the Trans- Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership concluded in 2006 among Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei (P-4 agreement) as a means to promote trade liberalization in the Asia- Pacific Region. As its name indicates, the original purpose of the agreement was only to address economic issues. As the number of participating countries in the P-4 agreement increased, starting with the United States in September 2008 and other countries to follow being Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Japan until July 2013, the agreement is agreed to be “a comprehensive, next-generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st-century challenges” by TPP Trade ministers. In June 2015, the United States approved the trade promotion authority for President Obama. The Agreement finally becomes as it is today through tough negotiation rounds, while the last round in Atlanta in September 2015 was considered the most intensive one. The TPP was already concluded on 06 October 2015.

TPP Market Snapshot
·         GDP: US$28,136.0 billion (2012)

·         GDP per capita: US$35,488 (2012)

·         Population: 792.8 million (2012)

·         TPP % of world GDP: 39.0% (2012)

·         TPP % of world population: 11.3% (2012)

·         TPP % of world trade: 25.8% (2012)

The TPP includes thirty chapters with deep focus on comprehensive market access, a fully regional agreement, cross-cutting issues (regulatory coherence, competiveness and business facilitation, small and medium sized enterprises, and development), and new trade challenges (particularly rules on state owned enterprises and government procurement).

The TPP would expand market access in goods and services among its signatories. The market access issues include liberalization of trade barriers protecting dairy, sugar, and rice; tariffs and origin rules affecting textiles, clothing, and footwear; and services trade reforms, especially financial services, insurance, and labor services.

Vietnam would be the largest beneficiary of this trade pact, resulting from its strong trade ties with the United States, high level of protection against its main exports (i.e., apparel and footwear), and its highly competitive positions in industries such as manufacturing where China is gradually losing its competitive advantage. Statistics shows that by participating in the TPP, Vietnam’s GDP would add an additional increase of 13.6% to the baseline scenario.

TTP will help Vietnam make good use of international cooperation opportunities, balance relationships with key markets, approach larger markets including the U.S, Japan, Canada, boost import-export, reduce import deficit, and attract foreign investment. In addition, TTP will also help Vietnam’s economy allocate its resources more effectively, enabling active supports to the processes of restructuring, innovation and improving regulations, and improve administrative reforms.

Higher income will help Vietnam to invest more and grow more

Vietnam is among the largest income gains in TPP

The TPP is now being submitted for ratification in each country before it officially takes effect. Despite all political concerns, we strongly believe that the TPP will finally be implemented in 2018.

AEC

The AEC originates from the ASEAN Vision 2020, which was adopted in 1997 on the 30th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, made up of Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (ASEAN). With a population of more than 600 million and a nominal GDP of about $2.31 trillion, ASEAN is a strong economic community in Asia and also a driver of global growth.

The AEC encompass the following characteristics: (i) a single market and production base, (ii) a highly competitive economic region, (iii) a region of equitable economic development, and (iv) a region fully integrated into the global economy.

The AEC is expected to be an area where goods can circulate freely and in which custom duties on goods will be gradually reduced to 0%. It will establish ASEAN as a single market and production base, making ASEAN more dynamic and competitive with new mechanisms and measures to strengthen the implementation of its existing economic initiatives; accelerating regional integration in the prioritized sectors; facilitating movement of business persons, skilled labor and talents; and strengthening the institutional mechanisms of ASEAN.

The free flow of investment will also offer enhanced investment protection to all ASEAN investors and their investments in other ASEAN member countries, including the settlement mechanism of an investor state dispute based on a non-discrimination principle when investing in other ASEAN countries. Those principles play a very important role in providing investor confidence when making cross-border investment.

Once the AEC is completed, it will be a unified market, a common manufacturing area seeking for more dynamic and competitive development and to create new opportunities for tariff reductions as well as other trade incentives.

AEC Market Snapshot
·         GDP: US$2311.3 billion (2012)

·         GDP per capita: US$3748.4 (2012)

·         Population: 620 million, 60% under the age of 35

·         AEC % of world GDP: ~3.3%

·         AEC % of world population: 9%

·         AEC’s merchandise exports: US$1.2 trillion – ~54% of total ASEAN GDP and 7% of global exports

·         If ASEAN were one economy, it would be the 7th largest in the world – 4th largest by 2050 if growth trends continue

EVFTA

On 02 December 2015, after nearly 3 years with 14 rounds of negotiations, the Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, H.E. Vu Huy Hoang and the European Commissioner for Trade, H.E. Cecilia Malmström have signed the EVFTA. Both parties will finalize the ratification process as soon as possible for the EVFTA to take effect from the beginning of 2018.

The EVFTA is considered one of the most comprehensive and ambitious trade and investment agreements. It is the second agreement in the ASEAN region after Singapore and it will intensify the bilateral relations between Vietnam and the EU.

The agreement has separate chapters on Trade of Goods, Rules of Origin, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures and Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade in Services, Investment, Trade Remedies, competition, State-Owned Enterprises, Government Procurement, Intellectual Property, sustainable Development, Cooperation and Capacity Building, Legal and Institutional Issues.

Nearly all customs duties – over 99% of the tariffs will be eliminated. The small remaining number is mainly due to the transition period. Vietnam will liberalize 65% of import duties on EU exports to Vietnam at entry into force and the remaining duties will be eliminated due to the next ten years; EU duties will be eliminated over a seven year period. The market will be opened for most of EU food products, i.e. wine, spirits and frozen pork meat will be liberalized after seven years and dairy products after a maximum of five years. The EU will eliminate duties for some sensitive products in the textile and footwear sector. The EU has offered access to Vietnamese exports via tariff rate quotas (TRQs), because some sensitive agricultural products will not be fully liberalized. Furthermore, the agreement will contain an annex with provisions to address non-tariff barriers in the automotive sector. Vietnamese exports of textile, clothing and footwear to the EU are expected to more than double in 2020 as a result of  the EVFTA.

The EVFTA will help to increase quality of investment flows from EU, accelerate the process of sharing expertise and transfer of green technology and the creation of more employment activities.

The real wages of skilled laborers may increase by up to 12% while real salary of common workers may rise by 13%. The macro economy will be stable and inflation rate is controlled. Vietnam’s business activities will be booming in the next few years once the EVFTA officially comes into force and Government’s policies as well as institutional reforms start showing their positive effects.

Vietnam’s GDP is expected to increase by 0.5% annually, increase in exports is 4-6% per year. If this trend continues until 2020, Vietnam’s exports to EU will increase by USD 16 billion. Until 2025, the EVFTA is estimated to generate an additional 7-8% of GDP above the trend growth rate.

In 2013, the EU was Vietnam’s second biggest trade partner with a total value of trade in goods of EUR 24.2 billion. In the same the EU was also Vietnam’s biggest export market with EUR 21 billion, representing 19% of Vietnam’s total export. Vietnam’s export to EU increased by 28% from 2012 to 2013. In addition, the EU is among the biggest investors in Vietnam, with 1,810 FDI projects in 2013. The EU committed to continuing to support with the foreseen assistance amount of EUR 400 million in the coming six years. EU exports to Vietnam are dominated by high-tech products including electrical machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles, and pharmaceutical products. Vietnam’s key export items to the EU include telephone sets, electronic products, footwear, textiles and clothing, coffee, rice, aqua products, and furniture.

Conclusion: Why investment in Vietnam now?

  • Vietnam ties in first place with Singapore, thus it provides highest possible protection for investment
Country Limitation of market access* Country Limitation of market access*
Malaysia medium Myanmar high
Indonesia medium Cambodia medium
Philippines medium Laos medium
Singapore low India high
Thailand medium China medium
Brunei high Vietnam low

*Typical restrictions: number of opened sectors, JV requirement, limits on foreign-owned shares, permission requirement

  • Vietnam has the fastest growing middle class with a very good demographic situation: about 90 Million people of which about 50 percent are under 30 years old.
  • Expectations of Vietnam parties might get unreasonable, the same as after Vietnam acceded to the WTO in 2007 and no projects could be done.
  • Market opening in certain sectors, for example, media, and there could be more competing companies from the AEC with better market access to Vietnam. Thus, it is vital that investors start working on their projects now to position themselves as early as possible before the coming into effect of the trade pacts.

***

Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com 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.

 

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Interview with Caijing Magazine on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and Institutional Reform and Competitiveness of Vietnam

1) Among the recommendations you raised for the government, reform to SOEs is the first one. Based on your observation, what are the remaining challenges for SOE reforms?

Answer: Comprehensive institutional reform of SOEs is of highest importance. It must be done by real privatization with majority options for investors. Investors must be granted with real performance control and business management control for SOE management. The Government must increase the number of shares sold and ensure a win-win solution for both investors and the government. In addition, the Government must stop supporting SOEs with loans to solve non-performing loan problem. These reforms should be fully implemented until end of 2017 or it will be too late to grasp the benefits of the upcoming EVFTA and the TPP.

2) Did you have a Q&A session with the members of the National Assembly? What are the issues they care about?

Answer: Yes. The main issue of their concern is what “institutional reform” of SOEs means. When they have a clear understanding of the concept, they will be able to develop a detailed plan. I have explained to them the meaning of institutional reforms as you see from my answer in Question 1. Other issues that some members raised are implementation of the TPP (by adopting a single and exclusive document for the TPP or other solutions), technical barriers for agricultural and livestock products, real advantages of reduced tariffs (in reality, not many firms are able to take advantage of the tariff reduction or the reduced tariffs have been applied in certain bilateral agreements) as well as competition issues.

3) As you mentioned 60% of imported materials sourced from other non-TPP countries, will the yarn-forward rule of origin totally change the supply chain and economic structure here? I heard a Chinese textile company is developing an industrial park in Vietnam in order to do weaving and dying here.

Answer: Vietnam will have to scale up the value-added chain as a result of the TPP. To enjoy benefits of TPP’s rules of origin, there must be a total transformation of the Vietnamese garment sector from a purely “cut and sew” operation to the next level of the supply chain. Not only Chinese investors are diverting their investment in Vietnam in this sector, the Japanese and EU investors are also considering this as a great opportunity to invest as there will be a huge demand for textile machines. The sector will witness significant changes when it becomes a fully integrated garment centre.

4) We heard a lot of discussion on TPP’s impact on the textile, garment and footwear industry. As the traditional industries, they are going to have much more opportunities when TPP takes effect. Are there any other industries will also benefit from it? How about the challenges TPP will bring to certain industry, like agriculture?

Answer: The TPP will have significant positive impact on Vietnam’s exports in textile, footwear, agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors. This is due to major reduction in import duties for goods from Vietnam, especially in Japan and the United States. Supply chain established after the effectiveness of the TPP will also bring Vietnam a lot of new opportunities. Recently, many big corporations have chosen Vietnam as a part of their production chain of high tech products. The TPP will help to develop this trend.
The livestock industry will suffer from fierce competition as a result of the TPP. In Vietnam, the livestock industry is still small, not modernized, mainly household scale with participation of small and medium enterprises. Products have certain difficulties in meeting high quality and sanitary standards.

5) How do you see TPP’s role in Vietnam’s economic reform?

Answer: Vietnam would be the largest beneficiary of this trade pact. Statistics shows that by participating in the TPP, Vietnam’s GDP would add an additional increase of 13.6% to the baseline scenario. According to the World Bank and other institutions, Vietnam’s GDP in 2020 will increase by USD 23.5 billion and USD33.5 billion in 2035. Export value will also increase by USD 68 billion in 2025. Vietnam’s real income by 2025 is also forecast to increase by 10.5%, leaving Malaysia’s as the second highest income rising country out of the TPP members far behind at 5.6%.
TTP will help Vietnam balance relationships with key markets, approach larger markets including the U.S, Japan, Canada, boost import-export, reduce import deficit, and attract foreign investment. In addition, TTP will also help Vietnam’s economy allocate its resources more effectively, enabling active supports to the processes of restructuring, innovation and improving regulations, and improve administrative reforms.
For your information, Vietnam has made progress over 3 continuous years to reach 56th position in 2015 on the Global Competitiveness Index list, a jump of 12 positions compared to 2014. It is noteworthy that Vietnam is more competitive than 6 European Union countries on this list. Even more notably, 4 out of these 6 countries, namely Slovenia, Cyprus, Slovakia and Greece, are considered as advanced global economies, and have the GDP per capita of at least USD17,700, eight times more than Vietnam.
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Please do contact the author Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

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

Largest / most noteworthy public M&A transactions in the past 12 months
Financial
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.
Other
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.
Insurance

• 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 www.vca.gov.vn/Default.aspx?lg=2.

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 omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Casino Laws – Latest Update

The final draft of the casino decree (‘Casino Decree’) has been passed by the Ministry of Justice and Government’s Office. It is now on the table of the Politburo for their comments, which are as always, the most important. It is expected that the Casino Decree would be issued on 1 July 2016. Nevertheless, there is no absolute guarantee on this prospect. This is because in order for a decree to become effective, it must be publicized on Official Gazette first and waits for a 15-day period from the first publication on the Official Gazette.
For many reasons, the text of the Casino Decree has not been made public. The Ministry of Finance has been successful in keeping the draft Casino Decree under secrecy. Again, whether Vietnamese residents are permitted to enter casinos in Vietnam is a big question that may wait for decision of the highest level of Vietnam’s political system.
Recently, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has proposed a draft decree that lists casino as a conditional business which is subject to license of the MPS with respect to social orders. A very interesting point is that the draft decree only prohibits Vietnamese from playing on gaming machines. It is important to note that no such prohibition is mentioned with respect to Vietnamese’s playing in casinos. This may give a hint that Vietnamese may enter casinos if they are ‘permitted’. This fact corresponds to provisions of the new Penal Code that makes it very clear that only ‘illegal’ gambling is punished.
So, though not 100% sure, more likely that Vietnamese may enter casinos and gamble but with specific conditions.
At present, pending the issuance of the Casino Decree, all projects on casino are put on hold. we will follow up and keep you updated.
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Please do contact the author Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
THANK YOU!

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Asean Economic Community Impact on Real Estate Sector

Often compared to the European Union (EU), the AEC is a community formed in order to promote economic integration in South East Asia. The aim of this community is to create a market where member countries are able to develop competitively and cooperate with fewer barriers including free movement of goods, services, investment, freer flow of capital as well as substantial growth in workforce and demanding occupations. In order to achieve this, there are several tasks that need to be fulfilled such as diminishing the gap between developed and developing nations or enhancing communications connectivity and infrastructure.

Due to this, it is expected that the AEC would have a significant impact on the members’ economies in general, and on their real estate sectors in particular; and Vietnam is not an exception. Considering market fluctuations, it can be seen that an excessive amount of foreign capital has been invested into properties recently. In reality, until June 2015, a total of $16.6 billion from ASEAN investors had been poured into this market, despite the fact that AEC was not formed until December last year. This is partly because of the recently applied Housing Law and the Law on Real Estate Business which allow foreign investors to legally own, sell and transfer real properties. Regardless, the influence of AEC is undeniable. Also, similar trends were found in other ASEAN nations including Thailand or Singapore.

This has led many experts to predict that the involvement of Vietnam in AEC would result in prosperity in the real estate market. Vietnam can well compete with its ASEAN member countries in the Real Estate sector.

Vietnam has the most liberalized Real Estate Sector of all Asia allowing free hold ownership of land and houses for foreigners who are married to Vietnamese nationals.

There are still a number of challenges ahead of us such as weak management or lack of skilled labors and unclear procedures. As a result, although with its diversity, the ASEAN real estate market is an attractive destination to several investors, individual countries including Vietnam are required to improve systematically in order to compete in the global market.

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

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement – Ratification and Key Impact for Vietnam

If the TPP is ratified and goes into effect, what do you see as the key areas of impact on Vietnam and its economic future?
Answer: Vietnam would be the largest beneficiary of this trade pact. Statistics show that by participating in the TPP, Vietnam’s GDP would add an additional increase of 13.6% to the baseline scenario. According to the World Bank and other institutions, Vietnam’s GDP in 2020 will increase by USD 23.5 billion and USD33.5 billion in 2035. Export value will also increase by USD 68 billion in 2025. Vietnam’s real income by 2025 is also forecast to increase by 10.5%, leaving Malaysia’s as the second highest income rising country out of the TPP members far behind at 5.6%.
TTP will help Vietnam balance relationships with key markets, approach larger markets including the U.S, Japan, Canada, boost import-export, reduce import deficit, and attract foreign investment. In addition, TTP will also help Vietnam’s economy allocate its resources more effectively, enabling active supports to the processes of restructuring, innovation and improving regulations, and improve administrative reforms.

What industries do you see within Vietnam would benefit the most, and where do you see major risks to established industries if the TPP is ratified?
Answer: The TPP will have significant positive impact on Vietnam’s exports in textile, footwear, agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors. This is due to major reduction in import duties for goods from Vietnam, especially in Japan and the United States. Supply chain established after the effectiveness of the TPP will also bring Vietnam a lot of new opportunities. Recently, many big corporations have chosen Vietnam as a part of their production chain of high tech products. The TPP will help to develop this trend.
The livestock industry will suffer from fierce competition as a result of the TPP. In Vietnam, the livestock industry is still small, not modernized, mainly household scale with participation of small and medium enterprises. Products have certain difficulties in meeting high quality and sanitary standards.
Textile industry is also a sector which bears negative impact from the TPP. The yarn-forward rule of origin makes Vietnam’s textile products difficult to be entitled with preferential import duties, as the domestic weaving industry has not well developed. Vietnam still has to import cloth and fabrics from non-TPP countries (for example, China). The textile industry sees this as an opportunity to re-structure the whole industry and improve the supply chain.

In your view, if the US does not ratify the TPP, do you see the RCEP as a replacement for Vietnam? And if so, what do you see as the major impacts (positive or negative) on Vietnam, as a result of implementing the RCEP without having a TPP?
Answer: I take a positive view that the TPP will sooner or later be ratified. However, in the unlikely worst scenario that the TPP will not be materialized, Vietnam will lose a great opportunity to integrate its economy deeper in the Asia- Pacific Region. RCEP has a lower level of trade liberalization and smaller commercial scale. RCEP does also not take a single-package approach, or in other words, it is not a comprehensive trade agreement which covers new issues of the era such as labour and environment standards, competition, SOEs, government procurement, IP rights, etc.) as the TPP. Thus, RCEP’s positive impacts on transforming Vietnam’s economy will not be as large as the TPP’s. Without the TPP, Vietnam will face strong competition from China – which is not a party to the TPP and this is Vietnam’s advantage over China. RCEP will put Vietnam in a disadvantaged situation in its relationship with China as a result of more liberalized and preferential bilateral trade from RCEP. Vietnam will no longer benefit from RCEP due to the similarities in the export structure between Vietnam and China.

If the TPP is ratified and goes into effect, do you see any effect with Vietnam – China trade? Especially given that there is already a trade agreement in place as part of the ACFTA.
Answer: Vietnam’s participation in the TPP will not harm Vietnam – China trade. I note that Vietnam has great trade deficits with China. However, while China is the biggest trading partner of Vietnam in terms of two-way trade, the United States is still Vietnam’s largest market. By being part of the TPP, Vietnam can take advantage of this opportunity to access to other TPP members’ market, improve its competitive capacity, thus reducing its reliance on China. Vietnam – China trade relations will then be improved towards better balance, stability and for mutual benefits.
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Please contact the author Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Transportation Business Requirements to apply for the badges: Which way for wholly owned foreign enterprises?

Requirements to apply for the badges
On 10 September 2014, the Government issued Decree No. 86/2014/ND-CP setting out conditions on transportation business (Decree 86) that automotive vehicles with designed capacity of 10 tones and above and from 7-10 tons must bear badges (the Badges). On 7 November 2014, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MT) issued Circular No. 63/2014/TT-BGTVT guiding Decree 86 (Circular 63), which requires that only enterprises having the Certificate of doing transport business by automotive vehicles can apply for the Badges.
Conditions to carry out transport business and the dilemma when applying for the Badges
According to Vietnam’s WTO Schedule of Specific Commitments in Services, foreign contribution in a joint venture doing transportation services must not exceed 49% of the total charter capital of that joint venture. Accordingly, enterprises with more than 51% foreign ownership do not have transportation business in their investment certificates, resulting in the impossibility to obtain the Certificate of doing transport business by automotive vehicles. This further leads to the fact that these enterprises will neither be able to apply for the Badges.
Moreover, Decree 86 creates the concept of ‘transport business with indirect money collection’ which is defined as ‘the transport business by automotive vehicles, in which the transport business units perform the transport phase and perform at least another phase in the process from production to consumption of products or services and collect freight through revenues from such products or services’ (Article 3.3). Circular 63 further requires trucks used by companies that carry out the transport business with indirect money collection to affix the Badges thereon when in traffic.
It is noted that some enterprises, considering their business nature, have to invest in specialized means of transportation to transport their own products between their locations and to their customers in Vietnam (for example, industrial gas products). Examples would be road tankers, special trailers and tube trailer, etc. that must be imported because their special designs make them impossible to be produced in Vietnam. Given high technical safety standards of international level, it is nearly impossible for enterprises to rent these special vehicles in Vietnam while relying on the same standards. Meanwhile, enterprises must still maintain their operation and cannot stop delivering their goods to the customers according to the terms of the contracts. However, according to Decree 86, from 01 January 2016, automotive means of goods transport with designed capacity from 10 tones must bear the Badges. Meanwhile, only enterprises having the Certificate of doing transport business by automotive vehicles can apply for the Badges. It is also contrary to the Vietnam’s WTO Schedule of Specific Commitments in Services which does not allow 100% foreign-owned enterprises to provide transport services.
It does also not make any business and legal sense if a manufacturing foreign invested enterprise which is allowed to import means of transport for its operations to serve its production activities is forced to register for professional transportation business or outsource this internal job to a professional business transportation company. In fact, thousands of other foreign invested enterprises have been long granted with the right to import means of transportation without any requirement on transportation business until the adoption of Decree 86. They have long maintained their trained driving staff and management personnel in compliance with their own internal policies. Thus, it is not so simple to switch to a new contractor and hire outside staff.
Which way for wholly-owned foreign enterprises?
Considering the abovementioned difficulties of enterprises with more than 49% foreign ownership doing business in crude oil products with special characteristics, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) has proposed to the Government to consider the issuance of the Badges for vehicles of these enterprises without requiring the Certificate of doing transport business by automotive vehicles, and at the same time consider the amendment of Decree 86.
Consequently on 30 March 2016, the Prime Minister issued Resolution No. 23/NQ-CP which clearly states that in the short term, the Government allows the MOT to issue the Badges to commodity carrying trucks of foreign invested enterprises with 49% foreign ownership or more for the purpose of the main production and business of these companies. For the next step, the MOT is responsible for incorporating the same regulations in the amendments of Decree 86.
This move of the Government has basically solved the abovementioned difficulties for enterprises with more than 49% foreign ownership so that they can keep operating as normal. This also ensures lawful right of doing business of foreign invested enterprises having transport services of goods produced by themselves to their customers, is in conformity with foreign investment encouraging policies of the Government and improves business environment in Vietnam.
Amendments of Decree 86 – What are in the current Draft?
The Government is now seeking public comments on the Draft Decree on doing business and conditions on doing transport business by automotive vehicles. This Draft Decree is essentially amending important points in Decree 86, among which is the requirement to apply the Badges for vehicles of enterprises doing transport business with indirect money collection.
In the current Draft Decree, internal goods transport is the activity of goods transport with indirect money collection and includes the following forms:
(1) Use of transport vehicles to transport dangerous goods according to the Government’s list of dangerous goods, transport of dangerous goods and authority to license such transport;
(2) Use of transport vehicles to transport cargos and overweight goods when in traffic on roads;
(3) Having 5 vehicles and more;
(4) Use of vehicles with permitted transported goods of 10 tons and above to transport goods.
Enterprises doing transport business with indirect money collection must satisfy conditions on means of transport, drivers, parking location and management of the driving staff as well as their vehicles.
Although the above is not yet effective, we can see that the Draft Decree has given much more clarity to the business of internal transport and conditions applied thereto. The Draft Decree is expected to be finally adopted in the upcoming months.
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Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

THANK YOU !

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann THE WORLD BANK REPORT ON RETAIL TARIFF INCREASE SOLUTIONS TO RECOVER ELECTRICITY OF VIETNAM

For the past few years, Vietnam has made the transition from a predominantly agricultural to a mixed economy with substantial development of commercial and industrial activities. Rapid growth in population and improvements in living standards together with the Government’s effort to improve access to electricity throughout the country have led to growing increase in the demand for electricity. This now poses a major challenge for Vietnam to maintain sustained growth of the power sector and to achieve energy security. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s electricity demand continues growing at double-digit number. Electricity infrastructure capacity is limited, operation of certain power projects has been delayed, and private investors are reluctant to invest in the sector due to their concern of low rates of return on equity and low feed-in-tariff. These factors, among others, have left the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) with no option but to increase debts to cover its operation needs. This article studies and proposes some solutions to improve EVN’s operation in the coming years.

Current situation of the Vietnam’s power market
As of December 31, 2015, the total generation capacity in Vietnam’s interconnected power system was 141.34 billion kWh, an increase of 11.6% compared to 2014. During the period of 2011-2015, electricity generation output increases by 11%/ year on average. Meanwhile, according to World Bank’s report in 2014, Vietnam is one of the most energy intensive economies in the world, and more energy intensive than other countries in the Southeast Asia at the same level of development.[1] Electricity demand has grown at a rapid pace averaging 15% per year from 2008 to 2010 before dropping to 9% in 2011 due to the macroeconomic situation.[2] Electricity demand is expected to be twice as much as GDP growth between 2014 and 2020. The Power Development Plan VII (PDP VII) projects a strong increase in power demand to 2030.[3]

Amended PDP VII sets the target of electricity output in 2020 to be 235 -245 billion kWh, 352 – 379 billion kWh in 2025 and 506 – 559 billion kWh in 2030. In this amended PDP VII, in 2020, the targeted total capacity of power plants is 60,000 MW, in which electricity output from renewable energy sources will account for 9.9%. These numbers in 2025 will be 96,500 MW and 12.5% respectively. In 2030, a target of 129,500 MW being the total capacity of power plants and 21% of electricity output generated from renewable energy sources is also set.

Total investment in the power sector was US$2.6 billion in 2012 and slightly increased in 2013. This is relatively small compared to the investment requirements of about US$7.5 billion per year. Meanwhile, the Vietnam Government as well as state-owned enterprises in the sector is unlikely to invest more due to prohibition from investing in non-core businesses by state-owned enterprises. In addition, the total investment cost from 2014-2020 corresponding to the capacity requirements totals US$53 billion. Thus, most of the expected total investment during 2014- 2020, which is of about US$25 billion should come from private sector. EVN will then still need a substantial investment program, which is hard to be financed until 2020.

The role of EVN in the power market and its financial problems

EVN and its subsidiaries play a vital role in the power sector. Key activities of the subsidiaries are generation, transmission and distribution. EVN acts as the only off-taker from the generators. It incurred significant financial losses in both 2010 and 2011.

EVN’s operation results in 2012 were much better, from a loss of 12% of income in 2011 to a profit of 14% of income. The profitable results maintained in 2013, although the result in 2013 was not as good as in 2012 and investment was still far below the level of needs. EVN has also had a high and rising level of borrowing in foreign currency. EVN is in a total debt of VND86 trillion in 2007, increasing to VND284 trillion in 2013. Total debt is expected to increase from US$14.6 billion in 2014 to US$28.2 billion in 2020.

The reasons behind EVN’s unstable, inefficient and risky operation are largely beyond EVN’s control. In particular, we have to name hydrology, substantial devaluation in the Vietnamese dong against EVN’s major borrowing currencies, lack of strong Government’s commitments in adopting tariffs to cover full cost of power provision as main challenges to the power sector in general and EVN in particular.
In contrast, EVN’s subsidiaries in generation, transmission and distribution have a quite strong operational performance and are well managed. However, low tariffs and low level of equity have put them under considerable financial constraints.

These financial and investment challenges could be solved by appropriate actions from EVN, the Ministry of Industry and Trade – the parent ministry and the private sector. In the worst scenario that EVN could not fulfil its financial obligations, the Ministry of Finance – the guarantor of EVN’s loans must bear the payment responsibility for the loans, resulting in possible decrease in investment and increased levels of supply interruption accordingly.

EVN is not under immediate threat of insolvency. However, if the current delay in payment to its fuel suppliers due to a prolonged delay in increasing tariffs and a series of years with low rainfall continue, EVN could be placed under a much more serious financial pressure. Where its liabilities exceed its assets, insolvency is unavoidable.

EVN’s challenges and solutions

Challenges Solutions
Achieving sufficient level of private investment in the power sector to meet investment needs (1) Improving regulations on guarantees on the remittance of funds, licensing procedures, project appraisal mechanisms, negotiation process with EVN and reducing the numbers of required permits as much as possible;
(2) Maintaining dialogue with private sector;
(3) Improving the MOIT’s capacity to manage IPP projects; and
(4) Divesting GENCOs.
Addressing the current low retail tariffs to enable EVN to improve the electricity system, which in turn improves the reliability of power supply (1) Setting PPAs in line with international standards;
(2) Allowing market prices for new generation investment;
(3) Amending current regulations to attract more private investment; and
(4) Carrying out electricity tariff adjustments to the extent necessary. The tariff adjustment path should be phased over the next 3-4 years (about 40% in total) so that EVN could achieve full cost recovery and financial stability by 2018.
Improving operational efficiency at EVN (1) Appointing a senior EVN leader to coordinate among ministries and agencies to move the financial recovery plan forward;
(2) Better technical management by (i) maintaining a reasonable number of working staff to improve labor productivity; (ii) making use of older coal plants during poor rainfall season and efficiently managing capital program; (iii) enhancing service quality;
(3) Fully unbundling EVN into independent companies;
(4) Disposing non-core assets and focusing only on core business;
(5) Rehabilitating assets; and
(6) Improving governance.
Enhancing EVN’s capacity to manage financing risks (1) Increasing revenues arising from the implementation of cost-based tariffs;
(2) Negotiating with lenders to extend the loan terms;
(3) Establishing a stabilization fund to manage the risks that EVN faces; and
(4) Reducing foreign exchange risks.
We note that these above recommendations are not mutually exclusive. In other words, implementation of any single recommendation could facilitate the implementation and effectiveness of the others. Moreover, these recommendations are not exhausted considering the on-going changes in Government policies and power market situation.
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Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

THANK YOU !

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann at Meeting with new Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc Sustainable Foreign Direct Investment is what Vietnam needs most:

We highly appreciate the Government’s efforts to integrate into the world’s economy, in particular it is worth mentioning the recent conclusion of important trade pacts such as the EU- Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Vietnam –Korea Free Trade Agreement. Foreign business community is expecting from the Vietnamese Government to stay course on its path of international integration and implementation of its international commitments. Foreign investment is an effective channel to develop the country, thus the Government needs to adopt preferential treatment for foreign investors in terms of policies, land and human resources.

But foreign investment cannot come at the price of unlimited environmental pollution and GDP should not be the only indicator of a fast-growing country. The current serious environment pollution in China as a result of its hot development in the recent years is a big lesson that Vietnam must learn from. The magic term for Vietnam’s future is “Sustainable Foreign Direct Investment”. Vietnamese Government should focus on encouraging sustainable development. One form is renewable energy. However, there has been done too little to move foreign direct investment forward in the renewable energy sector. Lack of sufficient supporting regime, low feed in tariff, project bankability are among hindrances to development in the sector.
But in my view the major hindrance for development in the Renewable Energy sector is the will of the Authorities in charge to really implement commitments of international agreements like the Paris agreement and make things happen in Vietnam. I conclude: Nothing will move without the real will to do it. We need the will and real action to create a sustainable framework for Renewable Energies and sustainable Foreign Direct Investment.

I am confident that the new Government will walk its talk to this regard.

Please contact Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you!

Best
Omassmann