Legal News
Allow full foreign ownership at public firms: experts

15 - 12 - 2017

The new law on securities should allow full foreign ownership at public companies and investment funds, according to members of the Viet Nam Business Forum’s (VBF) working group on capital market.

At the VBF meeting on Tuesday, Dominic Scriven, head of the working group, said it was necessary to create a safe bond market and an “open” stock market to promote rapid and sustainable development of the capital market.

The new securities law should allow firms to actively raise capital from foreign investors, except those operating in sectors of which foreign ownership is restricted as regulated, he said.

The working group also proposed that securities companies, fund management companies, public companies and investment funds founded in Viet Nam be regarded as domestic investors, regardless of the foreign ownership at these companies.

The working group called for the amended draft Law on Securities to be made public early for comments because this is a specialised law and revision would take time.

At a dialogue between the working group and the State Securities Committee (SSC) early this month, Nguyen Quang Viet, director of SSC’s Legal Department, said the new law aimed to create favourable conditions for businesses and investors and there was a high possibility that it would eliminate limits on foreign ownership at public companies and fund management companies.

Viet also said the draft law would be announced in March 2018 at the earliest.

Compiling a new securities law to replace the Law on Securities 2006, which proved to be outdated amidst the rapid development of the capital market in Viet Nam, was identified as a major task for the Ministry of Finance in 2017.

Decree 58/2012/ND-CP and Decree No 60/2015/ND-CP were issued to amend several points of the Law on Securities 2006. Accordingly, foreign ownership at public companies was capped at 49 per cent.

According to Scriven, Decree 90/2011/ND-CP should also be revised to allow enterprises to issue bonds efficiently.

At Wednesday’s conference when amendments to the decree were discussed, Dang Van Thanh, chairman of the Viet Nam Association of Financial Investors, said the corporate bond market had not received adequate attention.

Thanh said that in Viet Nam, few individual investors participated in this market and companies generally did not regard bond issuance as a major channel for raising capital in comparison with banking credit.

“The corporate bond market still has significant room for growth,” Thanh said.

The capital market, including bonds and stocks, developed rapidly in recent years and became an important capital raising channel for the economy.

The total capitalisation of the stock and bond market is now equivalent to more than 100 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, compared to outstanding loans, which are now worth about 130 per cent of GDP.

The scale of the securities market tripled in the past decade from 22 per cent of GDP in 2006 to 63 per cent of GDP currently.

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