PVI Holdings' headquarters in Hà Nội. — Photo tinnhanhchungkhoan.vn
HÀ NỘI — The State Securities Commission (SSC) last week issued a fine of VNĐ185 million (roughly US$8,000) to HDI Global SE for violating rules on foreign ownership and information disclosure.
According to the SSC, the German insurer carried out transactions through a third-party business to hide its real ownership in the Vietnamese firm and raise its stake above the foreign ownership limit without gaining approval from market regulators.
In its investigation report, the SSC said that HDI Global SE on August 31, 2017 signed a deal to buy bonds issued by Sun Way Investment JSC as the latter wanted to restructure its debts and expand its business activities.
The investigation found that Sun Way spent the money raised from the bond sale to buy PVI Holdings shares. Sun Way became a major shareholder in PVI Holdings on July 5, 2018 with a 5.33 per cent stake, or more than 12.3 million shares.
As of July 5, 2018, HDI Global SE owned 35.74 per cent of PVI Holdings capital, while Funderbuck Lighthouse Ltd, which was then acquired by HDI Global SE’s parent firm Talanx AG, possessed 11.58 per cent in the Vietnamese firm.
In a document sent to HDI Global inquiring about the firm’s clarification of its purchases of PVI Holdings shares from 2018, the SSC stated that as of January 31, 2019, the German company owned a total of nearly 126.3 million shares, or a 54.65 per cent stake, in PVI Holdings.
The foreign ownership limit (FOL) at the time was 49 per cent and was not lifted until April 19, 2019 when PVI Holdings gained approval from the SSC.
The SSC concluded that HDG Global SE had hidden its actual ownership in PVI Holdings to avoid eligible information disclosure, which violated an article in Decree 58/2012/NĐ-CP on the implementation of the Law on Securities. In addition, the German insurer also broke FOL rules stated in Decree 60/2015/NĐ-CP dated June 26, 2015 instructing firms to raise their FOL if needed.
In an instant response, Jens Wohlthat – a member of HDI Global SE’s management board cum PVI Holdings chairman – said the German firm had always followed the rules issued by the Government and other agencies.
The company had always cross-checked these regulations issued by the Vietnamese Government and market regulators, he said, tinnhanhchungkhoan.vn reported.
The statement is not available on the firm’s website.
HDI Global SE had worked closely with the board of managers at PVI Holdings to make sure the Vietnamese firm’s operations were sustainable, he said.
According to Wohlthat, the decision to lift the FOL bar at PVI Holdings was passed by shareholders on April 27, 2017 and the management board was asked to execute the plan. However, the plan was delayed for two years because the company was unable to remove conditional business activities from its portfolio.
He added that he hoped the Vietnamese Government would make the right decision to ensure HDI Global SE and other foreign investors were treated properly and their investments in domestic firms were secure. — VNS