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Vietnamese investors pour money into realty bonds despite China’s Evergrande case

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Realty bonds often catch special attention in the primary market thanks to attractive interest rates, even though warnings are often issued about their risks.

Vietnamese investors pour money into realty bonds despite China’s Evergrande case

SSI’s (Saigon Securities Incorporated) report about corporate bond market in Q3 showed the value of realty bonds issued had decreased but was still at a high level compared with previous years.

In Q3, businesses issued VND188 trillion of bonds, a decrease of 4.1 percent from Q2, and a drop of 17 percent compared with the same period last year.

The Covid outbreak and social distancing were the major reasons affecting businesses’ bond issuance plans.

Bond issuers

Corporate bonds in Vietnam are still mostly issued privately in the domestic market, which account for 89 percent of total bonds issued. Real estate firms continue to be the biggest issuers, with VND85 trillion issued in Q3, accounting for 45 percent of total bonds issued.

The total in corporate bonds issued in the first nine months of the year was VND443 trillion, an increase of 18.6 percent over the same period last year.

Of this, real estate firms issued VND202 trillion worth of bonds, or 45.5 percent, while banks issued VND136.4 trillion, 30.8 percent. They were followed by power and mining companies, with VND22 trillion and 5 percent; non-bank financial institutions VND21 trillion, 4.7 percent; and infrastructure developers VND17.5 trillion, 3.9 percent, and other businesses.

The average corporate bond interest rates, not including bank bonds, in Q3 was 9.3 percent per annum, 1.1 percent lower than late 2020, but still 4 percent higher than the average bank deposit interest rate.

The low bank deposit interest rates give more opportunity to businesses to issue corporate bonds. Individual investors still pour money into bonds as they can expect high profits.

However, a problem exists that most issuers don’t have mortgaged assets for bonds (not including banks and other financial institutions). Only 36.2 percent of bonds in the first nine months of the year were guaranteed with assets, real estate or shares.

Analysts say that the Evergrande ‘debt bomb’ in China has not caused the corporate bond market to be less bustling. The high bond interest rates (the average interest rate in Q3 was 10.34 percent per annum) have prompted investors to continue pouring money into bonds.

Risk of insolvency

The major secured assets for realty bonds are mostly issuers’ investment projects and assets expected take shape in the future, or their shares. About VND140 trillion worth of bonds were partially guaranteed by shares, which accounted for 67 percent.

SSI pointed out that the guarantee of payment of principal and interest with shares doesn’t have much significance. If issuers fall into insolvency, the value of the shares used as collateral will decrease dramatically.

The proportion of businesses issuing unsecured bonds was relatively high, 15.8 percent. Many of them are unlisted companies, which means that investors don’t have much information about them as bond issuers.

This poses high risks for investors if real estate firms have difficulties in their business and cannot pay principal and interest.

The corporate bonds issued in Vietnam so far have not been given credit ratings, while many bonds don’t have mortgaged assets and guarantees for payment. Many businesses issue bonds at high interest rates but cannot show convincing business plans, which raises worries about their solvency.

Analysts said the risk of insolvency is not high at this moment, because most of the issued bonds are due in 2023-2024. However, they warned that the Covid-19 pandemic may accelerate the risk.

The liquidity of the real estate market is on the decrease as the absorption capability is weakening. Plans on developing projects and opening new projects for sale have been postponed because of the pandemic. Meanwhile, infrastructure development projects under the framework of public investments are going slowly.

These factors all lead to higher capital costs and affect issuers’ debt payments. The situation may get even worse as some businesses issue new bonds to get money to pay old debts.

To restrict the issuance of unsecured bonds, the Ministry of Finance in October asked for inspections of 10 securities companies. It has checked some businesses that issued large amounts of corporate bonds or bonds with no mortgaged assets.

The ministry is drafting a circular that will set stricter regulations on businesses’ issuance of corporate bonds, including bonds issued privately by businesses that are nonpublic companies. The businesses must have mortgage assets when issuing bonds or have a payment guarantee. 

Tran Thuy

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/feature/vietnamese-investors-pour-money-into-realty-bonds-despite-china-s-evergrande-case-795537.html

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Magnetic strip ATM cards to remain valid next year

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A customer uses a chip card for payment at a point-of-sale (POS). VNA/ Photo

HÀ NỘI — The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) this week issued a dispatch, noting that domestic automated teller machine (ATM) cards with magnetic strips will remain valid for normal use after December 31, 2021.

The dispatch was issued after some banks have recently started sending notices to their customers about stopping supporting cards from ATMs to meet the deadline of the SBV’s Circular 19/2016 on the roadmap to convert from issuing magnetic strip cards to chip cards from next year.

Under the new dispatch, the SBV clarified that Circular 19/2016 makes no mention of a suspension of transactions using magnetic strip cards that remain valid.

December 31 this year is the deadline for changing to chip cards, not the date that magnetic strip cards will become invalid, the SBV noted, adding customers can continue to use magnetic strip ATM cards for transactions at ATMs, point-of-sale (POS) and bank counters, and for internet and mobile banking services after December 31 this year.

Under the new dispatch, the SBV asked card issuers and card payment organisations to ensure card holders’ transactions are carried out smoothly, safely and do not affect the interests of cardholders. They were also asked not to issue policies and regulations that go against the law on bank card operations.

In addition, they were told to launch media campaigns to inform their customers that magnetic stripe cards can still be used after December 31 this year.

However, under the new dispatch, the SBV also asked card issuers to encourage and support their customers to convert magnetic cards to chip cards to enhance security and to warn them of the risks if magnetic cards continue to be used.

There are two common ways to convert magnetic cards to chip cards.

In the first way, customers only need to bring valid citizen ID card or passport to the bank’s transaction point and request to convert from magnetic card to chip card.

In the second way, customers can access digital banking applications and mobile banking to apply for and receive cards at home or at the bank’s transaction points.

Or at some banks, the process is even more convenient. For example, at TPBank, customers can exchange magnetic cards for chip cards at LiveBank 24/7 and receive cards in just a few minutes.

In order to encourage customers to change magnetic strip cards to chip cards, most banks offered this service free of charge and the change is still free at some banks.

For example, at NamABank, the bank will completely convert magnetic strip cards to VIP cards for free from now until December 31, 2021. Similarly, Techcombank is also offering this activity free of charge.

According to experts, the conversion of magnetic strip cards to chip cards is beneficial for users, contributing to improving the security level, transaction speed, safety and ensuring the interests of customers.

Specifically, a magnetic card is a card containing a magnetic strip storing customer’s encrypted information. The data is permanently stored on the magnetic strip and is encrypted only once, so it easily leads to the risk of card information theft and transaction fraud.

Meanwhile, chip cards, which are also known as “smart cards”, have a microchip attached to the surface of the card, and this is the basic difference between chip cards and magnetic strip cards. For chip cards, transaction data includes data stored on the chip and the transaction password that changes with each transaction. Specifically, every time a chip card is used for payment, the chip will generate a unique transaction code and never repeat. In case the customer’s card is stolen from a certain store, the fake card will never work because the stolen transaction code will not be reused, the card will be rejected. —      


 

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Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/1092063/magnetic-strip-atm-cards-to-remain-valid-next-year.html

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Exporters told to strictly comply with EU regulations to avoid losses

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The European Union has a large demand for imported agricultural products and, thanks to the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), Vietnamese businesses have a unique opportunity to take advantage of this.

 However, local businesses need to strictly comply with European regulations to avoid losses when exporting to the region.

Exporters told to strictly comply with EU regulations to avoid losses
The EU applies strict requirements and regulations on imported food products. — VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh 

For food products, the EU has strict requirements and regulations on product quality and the maximum residue level (MRL) of pesticides.

Trade counsellor Tran Ngoc Quan, head of the Vietnam Trade Office in Belgium and EU, said that most regulations across the bloc are similar when it comes to agricultural and food products.

Germany, Austria, the UK, Netherlands and Belgium do have stricter and higher MRL levels than the standard EU regulations, though these vary with different active ingredients, fresh produce and processed products.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, General Secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, said that while Vietnamese fruits and vegetables are more competitive than those from countries without a European trade agreement, exporters must focus on improving MRL levels.

Nguyen said: “If enterprises exporting to the EU do not comply with the regulations, they face the risk of increased levels of inspections, supervision and perhaps even being banned from exporting to these markets in the future.

“The EU applies these regulations very strictly. Enterprises that want to export to the EU must obtain certificates and production levels according to GlobalGAP.”

Nguyen added that violators run the risk of incurring heavy losses if they are caught.

According to the new EU regulation No 2021/1900, effective from November 23, the frequency of pesticide testing on Vietnamese herbs and fruits will increase. Of this, 50 per cent of testing will be applied to coriander, basil, mint, parsley, beans corn and pepper and 10 per cent will be applied to dragon fruit.

Nguyen said that as vegetable products in Vietnam often have pesticides, some samples and consignments will be tested for residue. The EU has also increased the frequency of testing, adding that the more enterprises violate the regulations, the more frequent inspections will be. 

He said bans on export to the EU could be applied to violators.

According to a representative of the Vietnam Pepper Association (VPA), the EU’s increase in testing will raise difficulties in exporting to the EU and will invite increased competition from other countries.

“In order to avoid violations, businesses must do better at testing products when exporting, as well as strengthening production links to create a clean and safe raw material area,” said a representative of VPA.

The EU also conducts post-inspections away from ports, so even though goods are being consumed or sold at supermarkets or shops, if they are not of good quality they can still be recalled, said Nguyen.

Using the example of a Vietnamese pepper export enterprise that was refused by Spain when its product was tested at the border gate recently, Nguyen said that if the violation was discovered when the product was already on shelves it would cause larger financial damage to the  Vietnamese exporter. 

Nguyen Minh Lien, General Director of Vinamex Company which purchases Vietnamese goods for export to the EU market, shared that some Vietnamese enterprises do not pay due attention to food safety issues. Lien added that due to the post-inspection of the EU market, some have had to pay fines and incur additional costs due to poor quality products.

In addition, Lien said some basic errors like incorrect packaging leads to products being returned or sold cheaper to other markets.

Lien noted when exporting goods to the EU, Vietnamese businesses must work closely with importers on product quality, packaging and contract inspection to avoid loss and damage.

She said supermarkets in the EU do not directly import goods from Vietnam, so local enterprises should cooperate with importers to arrange products at the warehouse before entering the retail market there.

She also suggested Vietnamese enterprises cooperate to diversify products, ensure sufficient output and take advantage of shared containers when exporting.

Considering EU customers are increasingly interested in buying products from businesses that contribute to community development and the environment, Nguyen said: “Sustainable development should be a long-term direction for export businesses in Vietnam.”

At the same time, even enterprises and manufacturers that follow the GlobalGAP requirements must pay attention to the plant protection ingredients that the EU bans or restricts, as some may be different from the GlobalGAP.

Source: Vietnam News

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/business/local-exporters-must-strictly-comply-with-eu-regulations-to-avoid-losses-798131.html

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Moody’s upgrades VPBank’s rating to Ba3

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VPBank is one of the leading banks in Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of the bank

HÀ NỘI — Global credit rating firm Moody’s Investors Services has upgraded Việt Nam Prosperity Bank (VPBank)’s foreign currency deposits from B1 to Ba3 which is equal to the country’s rating with positive outlook.

Moody’s BCA ratings reflect the independent intrinsic strength of the issuer. This credit rating is assessed based on the macro-environment, financial profile and qualitative assessment factors. In addition to upgrading the BCA rating, Moody’s also upgraded VPBank’s long-term local and foreign currency deposit ratings, rising to Ba3.

VPBank’s credit rating was announced after the bank completed the sale of a 49 per cent stake at its VPBank Finance Company Limited (FE Credit) to SMBC Consumer Finance Co Ltd (SMBCCF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc (SMBC Group) at the end of October. Moody’s assessed that the capital sale brought about a significant improvement in the bank’s credit profile. Notably, according to Moody’s methodology, the bank’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR) increased from 11.4 per cent at the end of September 2021 to 13.5 per cent at the end of October 2021.

In addition to the improved capital base, the bank’s outstanding business results in recent months, despite the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy, were also highly appreciated by Moody’s. The business results in the third quarter of the year showed that VPBank’s consolidated before-tax profit reached more than VNĐ11.7 trillion (US$513 million), up 24.9 per cent over the same period last year. The parent bank’s pre-tax profit alone reached VNĐ10.8 trillion, representing 75.2 per cent year-on-year increase. The bank’s total consolidated operating income reached VNĐ33.2 trillion, increasing 17.3 per cent over the corresponding period last year. Its consolidated return on assets (ROA) and return on equity (ROE) indices continued to be among the top of the market, reaching 2.8 per cent and 21.6 per cent respectively.

Moody’s believed that VPBank’s capital capacity will continue to be stable, as the bank has clearly demonstrated its plan to use capital obtained from the FE Credit deal to promote growth and seek new business investment opportunities. In addition, the assets scale will be further expanded thanks to the profit growth from business activities.

“VPBank’s asset quality and profitability will remain stable over the next 12-18 months,” Moody’s said in the announcement, emphasising the belief that VPBank’s asset quality will be well under control as Việt Nam’s economy recovers and vaccination rates increase.

The upgraded ratings from a prestigious international credit rating agency like Moody’s in the context that Việt Nam’s economy has suffered heavy impacts from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, has demonstrated confidence of international organisations in VPBank’s capital base and development plan this year and in the future. This also contributes to strengthening VPBank’s position, while further enhancing its ability to mobilise capital from reputable financial institutions. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/economy/1092062/moodys-upgrades-vpbanks-rating-to-ba3.html

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