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VietNamNews

US firms upbeat on VN

Update: July, 03/2015 - 09:03

The Cua Ong Coal Production Company, a member of the Viet Nam Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin). Vinacomin is seeking strategic partners from the US after the Government has allowed foreign investors to own higher stakes in Vietnamese listed companies. — VNA/VNS Photo Trong Dat

NEW YORK (VNS) — US investors have responded positively to Viet Nam's growth potential at a five-day investment promotion conference that began in New York on Wednesday.

A State Securities Commission (SSC) report said yesterday that several major investors expressed their desire to invest or strengthen existing investments.

The conference, jointly organised by Viet Nam's Finance Ministry and several US partners, aims to strengthen US investors' confidence in the Vietnamese market.

Harbinger Fund Chairman Philip A Falcone, who developed the Ho Tram resort in southern Vung Tau City eight years ago, said he was happy to be among US pioneers who invested in Viet Nam tourism.

Manulife Vice Chairman Peter Wikinson said his company wants to invest more in Viet Nam, saying the Vietnamese Government has actively support businesses since the firm entered the country 16 years ago.

Currently, Manulife is one of three leading life insurers in Viet Nam, managing an investment fund worth US$486 million at the end of last year.

Billionaire Wilbur Ross from WL Ross & Co said he observed an increasing number of car and big property owners during a recent to Viet Nam. This reflected the country's "impressive" economic growth, he said.

He said national efforts to restructure the economy, especially via tax reforms and policies to loosen investment norms for foreigners, had interested US investors.

Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung speaks at the event. — Photo ssc

The real estate sector and key export products of Viet Nam would see rising foreign interest in the future, he said, adding that there will also be a significant influx of foreign capital in the domestic stock market as more and more State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are equitised.

Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung said nearly 290 SOEs would be privatised and more than 300 other firms will divest from non-core businesses this year.

The total value of the SOEs to be equitised is estimated at about $25 billion, and the combined value of shares that they will offer investors is around $3.75 billion, he said.

Firms already equitised and listed on the stock market have witnessed an average asset growth of 12 per cent per year, and an average equity growth of 16 per cent per year.

"The Vietnamese Government expects foreign investors, including those in the US, to take interest in these opportunities in Viet Nam," Dung said.

He noted that the Government recently issued Decree No 60/2015-ND-CP removing caps for foreign investors' stakes in domestic public companies, except in some restricted fields, in accordance with World Trade Organisation commitments.

"The maximum stake for foreign investors in the Vietnamese stock market was initially stipulated at 30 per cent, later raised to 49 per cent, and is now 100 per cent. This shows the determination [of the country in striving] for economic innovation and integration," said SSC Chairman Vu Bang.

The policies related to SOE equitisation and foreign ownership will help the domestic stock market grow strongly over the next five years as Viet Nam tries to upgrade its bourse from the "frontier" to the "emerging" level, Bang said.

Several major Vietnamese businesses including the State Capital Investment Company, Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group, Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam, and Viet Nam National Coal and Mineral Industries expressed their hope of finding strategic foreign investors.

Minister Dung emphasised that Viet Nam has been consistent in accelerating administrative reforms, information techonology applications and international integration for better economic development.

Besides free trade agreements already signed with the European Union, the US, Japan and South Korea, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is expected open up great opportunities for the domestic economy and investors here, he added.

The US is one of the largest economic, trade and investment partners of Viet Nam, an SSC press release said. As of February 2015, the US had nearly 730 investment projects worth some $11 billion in Viet Nam, ranking seventh in 101 countries and territories directly investing here. — VNS

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