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Vietnam welcomes US investment flow

Released at: 12:52, 07/07/2015

Vietnam welcomes US investment flow

Comprehensive and extensive partnership sought with the US in the financial sector.

by Quynh Nguyen - Pham Oanh

“Americans will come to Vietnam in greater numbers and contribute to the development of our enterprises,” Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung said after a conference to promote US investment in Vietnam in New York on July 1.

He added that the Vietnamese Government recognizes and appreciates the role and presence of US financial groups and investors in Vietnam. “Vietnam wants to open up a dialogue that will help US companies and investors understand our investment environment and the innovative efforts of the government to strengthen confidence among US investors,” he said.

Huge cooperative potential

During their meeting, Mr. Robert Greifeld, CEO and President of NASDAQ OSX, which owns and operates the NASDAQ stock market, asked Minister Dung whether, if US investors invest in Vietnam, would large Vietnamese enterprises invest in the US.

Minister Dung replied that nearly 30 enterprises are promoting trade in the US, including major names such as the Vietnam National Coal - Mineral Industries Holding Corporation (Vinacomin), the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), and the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC), who are also part of the Vietnamese delegation to the conference.

Mr. Greifeld said he supports Vietnam joining the Federation of Stock Exchanges. “Nineteen years ago I went to Vietnam and I see it as an attractive country for investment,” he said.

Mr. Vu Bang, Chairman of the State Securities Commission, said that many large financial corporations are in Vietnam, such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. The total number of US investors has now reached 995, of which 60 per cent hold more than 5 million bonds and over 1 billion shares.

The value of stocks held by equity investors, according to the latest data from Vietnam Securities Depository, is $1.6 billion, which is quite small compared to potential and also small compared to the amount of direct investment from the US in Vietnam, of about $11 billion.

In his role as mediator in discussions between US investors and the delegation from Vietnam, CEO of VinaCapital Mr. Don Lam said that the next few years will see Vietnam’s economy soar. Apart from its existing strengths, he said, such as a stable political situation, solid demographics, and rising incomes, Vietnam also has opportunities to grow further through innovative programs in the banking sector, the equitization of State-owned enterprises (SOEs), and improvements to the legal framework for promoting the healthy functioning of capital markets.

Opportunities on offer

The five enterprises that are part of the delegation are all willing to welcome US investors to Vietnam. Ms. Pham Nguyen Hanh, Deputy Director of Vinatex, said that 2015 has been a special year for Vinatex as it became a joint stock company and it very much desires to seek strategic investors from the US.

The General Director of SCIC, Mr. Lai Van Dao, said it has 300 enterprises under its control and is seeking investors. “With the decision to remove the limit on foreign ownership of listed companies, under Decree No. 60, we are looking for US investors to purchase shares and accompany SCIC in investing in other projects in Vietnam,” he said.

BIDV also hopes to attract foreign investors by issuing new shares in two packages. Package 1 will be available to strategic investors, who can buy a maximum of 20 per cent, and Package 2 will be available to financial investors, who can by a maximum of 10 per cent, according to Mr. Pham Quang Tung, Deputy Director of BIDV.

Mr. Philip Falcone, who founded the Harbinger Group and became a billionaire at the age of 50, said that he believes in the efforts of the Vietnamese Government and feels there are significant investment opportunities in large enterprises in the country. “Investors from Japan, South Korea, and China also see opportunities in Vietnam,” he said. “Because of the competition, US investors need to go to Vietnam as soon as possible. The opportunities there are undeniable.”

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