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Vietnam M&A Spotlight - March 2020

Freshfields' Vietnam M&A Spotlight keeps you up-to-date with the key business and legal developments in this sector. Please contact us if you would also like to receive either our Vietnam Infrastructure Spotlight or our Vietnam Competition Law Spotlight.


Sales by the State

  • Off target. In 2019, only 12 SOEs gained approval for their equitization plans. 92 SOEs did not, including Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank), telecoms group Mobifone, the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), the Vietnam National Coffee Corporation (Vinacafe), and the Vietnam National Chemical Group (Vinachem). Source: Vietnam Plus

Real Estate

  • Vingroup – Grand sale. Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation and Nomura Real Estate have jointly acquired 80% of the Grand Park township project in District 9 of HCMC, a project being developed by Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate Vingroup. The project development cost is said to be US$918 million. Source: Deal Street Asia


  • Military expansion. Hanoi-based Military Bank (MB Bank) last month asked the Vietnam Securities Depository to adjust its foreign ownership limit to 20.9 per cent from the current 20 per cent which had been already held by foreign investors. The move would allow MB Bank to transfer 21.43 million treasury shares (equivalent to less than 1% of the charter capital) to foreign investors. Source: Vietnam Net
  • Strategic expansion. Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB) is mulling the sale of a strategic 11 per cent stake to Aozora Bank of Japan, and plans to list on Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange this year. Source: Deal Street Asia
  • Strategic retraction. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) investor group is now no longer a major shareholder of Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank), after selling shares that took its ownership interest below 5%. Apart from the State, the largest shareholder is MUFG Bank of Japan. Source: Bizhub
  • Vietnam count down. The Vietnamese Government may allow European financial firms to buy up to 49 per cent of two local commercial banks. The offer will be valid for five years after the Europe-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement takes effect. It is expected to be ratified by the National Assembly in May 2020. The offer does not apply to four banks, in which the State still holds controlling stakes, namely BIDV, VietinBank, Vietcombank and Agribank. Source: Vietnam News


  • Life cover. Japanese insurer Sumitomo Life has registered to buy more than 41.4 million shares of local insurer insurance-finance-banking group Bao Viet Holdings. This would take its ownership interest to over 22%. Source: Bizhub


  • Stable door to stay open after horse has bolted. The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) had recently proposed the inclusion of a 49 per cent foreign ownership limit in payment intermediary businesses. This will not go forward into the final proposal to be submitted to the Prime Minister in June 2020, in part because some of these companies already have a higher foreign ownership. Source: Deal Street Asia
  • A horse. The China-based Ant Financial, a fintech affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has acquired a “sizable” stake in Vietnamese e-wallet eMonkey. Ant Financial will not control more than 50 per cent of eMonkey, but is expected to have significant influence on the e-wallet business. Source: Vietnam Net
  • Platform talks. Vietnam’s two major e-commerce platforms Tiki and Sendo are rumoured to be holding exploratory talks to merge. Source: Hanoi Times

Oil & Gas

  • Lubrication. SK Lubricants, a subsidiary of South Korea’s SK Innovation, has acquired a 49 per cent stake in Mekong Petrochemical JSC for 50 billion won (US$42.1 million). The deal marks SK Lubricants’ first overseas investment and is part of its plan to expand in Southeast Asia. Source: Deal Street Asia
  • Refuelling. Vietnam is considering raising the foreign ownership cap in petrol companies to 34 per cent from the current 20 per cent to attract more investors to the state-controlled fuel distribution business. Source: Vn Express

Renewable energy

  • Gunkul in the sun. Thailand-based Gunkul Engineering purchased two operational solar power farms in southern Vietnam with a combined capacity of 60MW from Sungrow Power (Singapore) Pte Ltd. Source: Renewables Now