Vietnamese merger regulations

Under the Vietnamese Competition Law, an “economic concentration” is defined to include the following types of transactions:

(a)        Merger of enterprises means the transfer by one or more enterprise(s) of all of  its lawful assets, rights, obligations and interests to another enterprise and at the same time the termination of the existence of the merging enterprise(s).

(b)       Consolidation of enterprises means the transfer by two or more enterprises of all of their lawful assets, rights, obligations and interests to form a new enterprise and at the same time the termination of the existence of the consolidating enterprises.

(c)        Acquisition of an enterprise means the purchase by one enterprise of all or part of the assets of another enterprise sufficient to control or govern the activities of one or all of the businesses of the acquired enterprise. Controlling or governing all or one of the businesses of another enterprise means an enterprise (controlling enterprise) obtains ownership of the assets of another enterprise (controlled enterprise) sufficient to give the controlling enterprise 50% of the voting rights at the general meeting of shareholders, the board of management or other level sufficient according to law or the charter of the controlled enterprise to enable the controlling enterprise to govern the financial policies and operations of the controlled enterprise aimed at receiving economic benefit from the business operations of the controlled enterprise.

(d)       Joint venture between enterprises means two or more enterprises together contribute a portion of their lawful assets, rights, obligations and interests to form a new enterprise.

Article 20.1 of the Competition Law provides that if the parties to a merger have a combined market share in a relevant market from 30% to up to 50% then the parties must notify the Vietnam Competition Authority of the enterprise acquisition before completing the merger unless the parties to the merger still remain a small and medium enterprise after the merger. A small and medium enterprise under Vietnamese law is subject to different criteria based on its business lines. But in general, a small and medium enterprise should not have more than 300 employees and a charter capital of more than VND 100 billion (about US$ 4.8 million).  An economic concentration with a combined market share of more than 50% is prohibited unless an exemption is granted.

Vietnam Business Law Blog

The following is a non-exhaustive list of licenses, permits and requirements on environment which an industrial park in Vietnam need to comply with.

1. Environment impact assessment report (EIAR – Báo cáo đánh giá tác động môi trường) or environment protection plan (EPP – Kế hoạch bảo vệ môi trường).

2. Confirmation on completion of the environmental protection works (Xác nhận hoàn thành công trình bảo vệ môi trường).

The following is a non-exhaustive list of licenses, permits and requirements on firefighting and prevention applicable for an industrial park in Vietnam which are subject to the monitor of firefighting and prevention and may pose a risk of fire and explosion.

1)          Appraisal of firefighting and prevention design (Thẩm duyệt thiết kế về phòng cháy chữa cháy) by the competent authority before commencing the construction.

2)          Acceptance of firefighting and prevention (Nghiệm thu về phòng cháy và chữa cháy) by the competent authority before putting the construction works into operation.

3)          Compulsory fire and explosion insurance for the properties of the industrial park.

Foreign banks located outside of Vietnam extending cross-border loans to borrowers in Vietnam should be aware of the following:

  • Under WTO commitments, Vietnam gives an “unbound” commitment regarding cross-border lending services. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-pacific Partnership (CPTPP) also does not open for cross-border lending services. This means that the Vietnamese Government has discretion to allow or disallow cross-border lending;

On 11 January 2019, the Supreme Court issued Resolution 1 guiding the application of several regulations on interest, interest rate and relevant penalty (Resolution 1/2019). Resolution 1/2019 will take effect from 15 March 2019. Below are some salient points of Resolution 1/2019

  • Resolution 1/2019 clearly states that the interest rate caps of the Civil Code 2005 and 2015 will not apply to credit contracts between banks and its customers. In the past, there has been long debate regarding whether the interest rate caps of the Civil Code 2005 and 2015 will apply to credit contracts.

  • If the interest rate, overdue interest on principal and overdue interest on interest are higher than the permitted cap, the exceeding interest which has been paid will be deducted from the principal of the loan.

Collective action mechanism among bondholders is one of the common features in terms and conditions of a corporate bond.  Two important features of collective action mechanism are:

·        the use of a bond trustee to act for the benefit of bondholders; and

·        the use of bondholders’ meeting to allow a decision of a majority (or super-majority) of bondholder regarding the bond (e.g. changing the terms of the bond) to bind minority bondholders who disagree with such decision.

Arguably, if the provisions of bondholders’ meeting are included in the terms of the bond and a bondholder agrees to such term then the provisions on a civil transaction under Civil Code 2015 may allow the use of bondholders’ meeting in Vietnam. However, the validity of a decision of a bondholders’ meeting which is not approved by all bondholders is still questionable under Vietnamese law. This is because:

Under the Law on E-Transactions, an e-signature (chữ ký điện tử) is defined as being created in the form of words, script, numerals, symbols, sounds or in other forms by electronic means, logically attached or associated with a data message, and being capable of identifying the person who has signed the data message, and being capable of identifying the consent of that signatory to the contents of the signed data message.

According to Article 24.1 of the Law on E-Transactions, an e-signature of an individual affixed to a data message will be legally equivalent to the signature of such individual affixed to a written document if:

·        the method of creating the e-signature permits to identify the signatory and to indicate his/her approval of the contents of the data message; and

·        such method is sufficiently reliable and appropriate to the purpose for which the data message was originated and sent.

Accordingly, if an user being an individual of an e-commerce website, who can be identified by his/her username, password, and other means of verification (e.g., OTP code), clicks on a confirmation button of an online order then such action can be regarded as creating and affixing an e-signature to the online order by the individual user. This is because: