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M&A deals could help VN businesses restructure amid pandemic

Merger and acquisition (M&A) deals will likely increase post-pandemic, which industry insiders see as a chance for enterprises to restructure their operations to be more viable.

A woman walks past a Vinmart+ in Ha Noi. A deal in which Masan acquired VinMart and VinMart+ from Vingroup helped Masan to expand its retail system. 

Data from the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment showed Viet Nam attracted nearly US$14 billion worth of foreign capital in the first five months of this year, down 17 per cent year-on-year. This figure included newly-registered capital, adjusted capital and capital contributions to buy equity.

There were 3,528 deals worth nearly $3 billion to buy the equity of companies, up 11.6 per cent in volume but down 59 per cent in value compared to the same period of last year.

Although the value of deals declined sharply, partly blamed on the coronavirus pandemic and falling value of companies, market insiders have predicted M&A activities will sharply increase soon.

Putting aside worries about being taken over at cheap prices, some experts have pointed out M&A could be a good opportunity for enterprises to restructure their operations, attract more capital to overcome the crisis and develop further.

Economist Dinh Trong Thinh said the COVID-19 pandemic had greatly impacted the whole economy and enterprises, especially those involved in import and export activities. Weak financial capacity has forced many businesses to seek M&A deals amid the pandemic which could be a good solution to have more resources and increase resilience to cope with uncertainty in the future.

According to Pham Xuan Anh, head of the Banking Investment Division at MB Securities JSC, M&A is an effective tool to reshape businesses and a way for firms to expand or narrow their operations to create greater value for shareholders, enhance governance and reduce risks.

Talking to, Anh cited the deal in which Masan acquired VinMart and VinMart+ from Vingroup’s retail arm to expand its retail system in 2019.

The deal was considered to benefit both sides as Masan can take advantage of Vingroup’s national network to achieve its goal of becoming the leading domestic retail and consumer group while Vingroup can save resources for its core activity – manufacturing and technology.

Anh said firms could use M&A to focus on a key business. Many long-established European businesses have been known for one type of product, while Vietnamese businesses tend to invest across many industries, resulting in a lack of capital and resources to develop.

M&A when ready

However, Anh also said there are always risks in this activity, so businesses should seek M&A deals only when they are ready. If business leaders still see risks and are not confident enough, the deal will struggle to succeed.

He pointed out many factors for investors to decide whether to invest in the business or not, in which the quality of assets is crucial. Asset quality is the first thing that attracts investors to a business and this is also the strength on which business can negotiate better prices with investors.

Other important factors include intangible assets like the business culture and corporate governance which are often the weakness of small- and medium-sized enterprises, Anh added.

According to Baker McKenzie, despite a slowdown in global deal-making due to worldwide economic uncertainty, Viet Nam remains active in M&A in 2020. The US law firm predicted cross-border acquisitions to dominate M&A deals in the coming years, as the country’s solid fundamentals continue to attract overseas investors.

Viet Nam is being praised for its efforts to control the pandemic. In addition, the ratification of the trade pact between the country and the EU will offer businesses greater opportunities for trade and investment.

However, economist Dinh Trong thinh has warned about the risk that Vietnamese enterprises will be acquired by foreign investors for cheap prices.

He said the State authority needs to consider a number of sectors which are susceptible to foreign acquisitions and have an adverse impact on the economy if they are sold for strict management. —VNS



Vietnam asks to be excluded from Philippines’ investigations on steel

The Trade Remedies Authority of Viet Nam has asked the Philippines to exclude Viet Nam from three safeguard investigations on some steel products.

Vietnam asks to be excluded from Philippines' investigations on steel

The steel industry of Viet Nam recently faced increasing pressure from investigations for trade defence measures. — Photo

The proposal was stressed in the Trade Remedies Authority of Viet Nam’s consultation letter recently sent to the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry.

In the letter, the Trade Remedies Authority of Viet Nam expressed concern about the Philippines’ initiation of three safeguard investigations on steel products imported into the country, including aluminium zinc sheets, coils and strips, pre-painted galvanized iron and pre-painted aluminium zinc, and galvanized iron sheets, coils and strips.

Viet Nam also asked the Philippines to strictly abide by rules for safeguard investigations and imposition in accordance with the World Trade Organisation’s safeguard agreement.

In addition, the Philippines needed to use the most updated import date when analysing and assessing the injuries caused by the imports on its domestic industry.

According to the Trade Remedies Authority of Viet Nam, the Philippines’ imports of the products from Viet Nam were not considerable and it was eligible for Viet Nam to be excluded from safeguard measures following the WTO’s rules.

The agency would continue to cooperate with the Vietnamese Embassy in the Philippines, Vietnamese Trade Office in the Philippines, the Viet Nam Steel Association and producers to keep a close watch on the investigations to protect the legitimate rights of Vietnamese producers and exporters.

The steel industry of Viet Nam has recently faced increasing pressure due to investigations for trade defence measures.

In February, Thailand issued the final conclusion of an anti-dumping investigation on iron steel piles originating or imported from Viet Nam, with the imposition of anti-dumping duties from 6.97 per cent to 51.61 per cent.

At the end of March, Malaysia initiated anti-dumping duty on galvanised steel from Viet Nam with the alleged dumping margin of up to 39.27 per cent.

Canada in March also imposed temporary anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on corrosion-resistant steel from several countries, including Viet Nam, at the rates ranging from 36.3 per cent to 91.8 per cent, depending on each enterprise.

Also in March, Australia initiated anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations on steel pipe originating from Viet Nam, China, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.

On May 13, the US Department of Commerce initiated an investigation for tax evasion measures against stainless steel sheet products imported from Viet Nam. — VNS


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Vietnam Electricity announces test results of electricity bills

Vietnam Electricity (EVN) announced there were only a few cases of incorrect electricity bills after checking its records from June 25 to July 3.

Vietnam Electricity announces test results of electricity bills

An inspection team checks the electricity meter in Me Linh, Ha Noi. 

EVN’s Deputy General Director of Vo Quang Lam said branches have disciplined related managers and staff who were responsible for incorrect filings as well as implemented better and stricter electricity measuring to avoid similar problems in the future.

Lam said the inspection teams, including an inter-sectoral team from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the General Department of Standards, Metrology and Quality, the Vietnam Consumer Protection Association and EVN, have conducted inspections at all five Power Corporations across Viet Nam on electricity meter readings and bill calculations.

EVN said it has strictly complied with the law on measurement of electricity meters in the inspections.

The teams concluded: “All meters are in accordance with the approved samples, the certificates including verification stamps and inspection seals are in compliance with regulations and still valid.”

EVN also responded to all requests from customers regarding their electricity bills.

Lam said: “ENV will enhance communication with customers as well as improve customer services in the future.”

According to EVN, increasing electricity use was mainly in households with air-conditioners. For households that do not use air conditioners but fans, the bills do not change much.

Earlier, Nguyen Viet Dung, director of the Institute of Heat and Refrigeration Science and Technology, Ha Noi University of Science and Technology, released a study showing that electricity use in the four months of summer was about 20 to 50 per cent higher than use in other months. In particular, the power consumption of air conditioners accounts for 28-64 per cent, refrigerators from 6-22 per cent, the remainder is electricity consumption of other devices such as TVs, lighting and appliances.

According to other analysts, the power consumption of air conditioners will increase depending on the gap between temperatures. If the indoor air conditioners are set too low while the temperature outside is much higher, the devices consume a lot more power.

For energy saving, users are asked to set the right temperature. For example, if the outdoor temperature is 35 degrees Celsius, the indoor temperature should be about 26-28 degrees instead of much lower.

Energy experts also suggest households have good air conditioners, install them in the right places and clean them regularly for the best energy saving results. — VNS


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Vietnam struggles to have 5,000 science and tech firms this year

Vietnam would have difficulty achieving the goal of having 5,000 science and technology enterprises this year under the 2011-20 science and technology development strategy.

Vietnam struggles to have 5,000 science and tech firms this year

Students during a class at FPT University. Viet Nam is striving to reach 5,000 science and technology firms this year, but there are obstacles.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has proposed many solutions to reach this goal, including the Decree 13/2019/ND-CP on developing science and technology enterprises effective from March 20, 2019 with better incentives and opened mechanisms.

It has also improved policies and institutions, including amendments of some laws on investment, enterprises and corporate income tax and regulations supporting incubation and development of science and technology enterprises.

The system of mechanisms, policies and regulations on development of science and technology, and creative innovation is synchronised to ensure efficiency in supporting the development of science and technology enterprises and using results of State-invested research on science and technology.

However, Viet Nam now has about 500 science and technology enterprises, reaching 10 per cent of the target.

The ministry has found many barriers to having 5,000 science and technology firms this year.

Pham Duc Nghiem, deputy director of the ministry’s Department for Development of Market and Science and Technology Enterprises, said that the number of enterprises interested in science and technology is not high and programmes as well as disbursement of capital for the development of science and technology firms are also limited.

Recently, the ministry has reformed mechanism on investment to create more favourable conditions for businesses in becoming science and technology firms but they still need to renew themselves, Nghiem said.

Science and Technology deputy minister Bui The Duy said the failure to achieve this goal firstly is the responsibility of the science and technology ministry because its communication on the target is limited.

“The ministry has not cooperated with media agencies to encourage development for science and technology enterprises as well as incentives for those enterprises,” Duy told the Voice of Viet Nam.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Hong Phong, general director of the Tien Nong Agriculture Joint Stock Company, one of the first science and technology companies in Thanh Hoa Province, said it has had a difficult beginning to be recognised as a science and technology company.

Since its establishment in 1995, the enterprise has identified science and technology as a foundation for its development and built a research and development (R&D) centre with modern equipment and technology.

With this R&D centre, the company has implemented many research projects to produce high-quality farming products to increase its revenue and output in farmers’ production.

However, to become a science and technology company is not easy, especially for small and medium sized enterprises like the Tien Nong, according to Phong. The State has many incentives to support the development of science and technology companies such as tax, land and credit, but whether they receive these incentives or not is another issue.

Besides that, Luu Hai Minh, chairman of the Nhat Hai New Technology Joint Stock Company with a certificated science and technology enterprise, said the right of using a State-invested scientific and technological research project has the same value as land use rights.

An enterprise could mortgage its land use right to get loans for development but is not permitted to mortgage the use right of State-invested scientific and technological research to have capital for producing new products, he said. — VNS


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