New measures to facilitate equitisation and divestments by Vietnamese State-owned enterprises

In order to equitise and/or divest from 432 State-owned enterprises by end of 2015, the Government has provided certain additional measures to facilitate equitisation and divestments by Vietnamese State-owned enterprises under Resolution 15/2014. In particular,

  •  Subject to approval by the relevant State owner, a State-owned enterprise is expressly allowed to sell its investment in non-core business at a price lower than par value or book value after taking into account any reserve for such investment. This provision is to clarify further Decree 71/2013 which also allows divestment of investment in non-core business at a price lower than book value. However, Decree 71/2013 seems to require the relevant State-owned enterprise to sell its non-core investment at market price first.
  • a State-owned enterprise which sells its shares in an unlisted company may organise a public auction on its own. Under Decree 71/2013, if the shares in an unlisted company have an aggregate par value of VND 10 billion or more, the relevant State-owned enterprise must organise a public auction through a Stock exchange.
  • a State-owned enterprise which is the major shareholder in a public company may make a public offer to sell its shares in the public company even the public company is running at loss. Under Decree 58/2012, a major shareholder in a public company can only make a public offer to sell its shares in the public company if the public company has not accumulated loss and is profitable in the year before the year of offering.
  • SCIC is authorised to acquire investments in banking and insurance sectors by other State-owned enterprises in case those State-owned enterprises fail to sell such investment to other investors.

Resolution 15/2014 is not a legal instrument under Vietnamese law. Therefore, a measure under Resolution 15/2014 which is contrary to other Decrees of the Government including Decree 71/2013 and Decree 58/2012 may be of questionable legality.

Vietnam Business Law Blog

On 28 December 2018, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) issued Circular 42 amending current foreign currency borrowing regulations (in Circular 24 of the SBV dated 8 December 2015, as amended from time to time (Circular 24/2015)) (Circular 42/2018). Circular 42/2018 will take effect from 1 January 2019.

Changes to permitted lending purpose

Vietnamese banks only lend in foreign currency for a few limited purposes. Circular 42/2018 has following changes to these purposes:

On 20 June 2018, the Ministry of Justice issued Circular 8 on the registration and provision of information on security interest and contracts (Circular 8/2018). Circular 8/2018 will replace Circular 5/2011 on the same subject from 4 August 2018.

Name of the object of the registration

The object of registration under Circular 5/2011 is secured transactions (giao dịch bảo đảm), which is in line with the Civil Code 2005. However, the term “secured transaction” is almost removed from the Civil Code 2015 and the registration is now the registration of security interest (biện pháp bảo đảm). Circular 8/2018 adopts such approach and determined the object of registration is security interest to be consistent with the new Civil Code 2015.

The Ministry of Finance has released a latest draft amendment to the Securities Law 2006 (, which is scheduled to be passed in the second half of 2019. It looks like that any major law in Vietnam will need to undergo major changes in every 10 years whether or not the changes are necessary. The draft amendments include the following major changes regarding capital raising process:

In December 2018, the Government issues Decree 163/2018 to replace Decree 90/2011 on private issuance of corporate by Vietnamese companies from February 2019. Decree 163/2018 introduces certain new important points as follows:

·        To be able issue bonds, a company is no longer required to be profitable in year before the proposed issuance. Instead, the company only needs to operate for at least one year and its financial statement is audited by a qualified auditor. Issuer who has undergone certain restructuring (e.g., merger, conversion or division) may rely on the historical operation of other related companies to meet the one year operating test;

·        Secondary trading of privately-issued bonds is limited within up to 100 investors excluding “professional investors” within one year from the issuance date. The new limitation seems to aim at the practice of issuing bonds privately at the first place and reselling the same to public investors in secondary market;

Vietnamese banking regulations do not provide for a clear definition of a financial lease (cho thuê tài chính). The lack of a clear definition may result in unnecessary legal risks for parties to a cross-border lease transaction (e.g., an aircraft lease). For example, if a cross-border lease is regarded as a financial lease, then the lease may need to be registered with the State Bank of Vietnam as a foreign loan.

Under the Law on Credit Institution 2010, the act of finance leasing is defined to be (1) the extension of medium and long-term credit; (2) on the basis of a finance leasing contract; and(3) satisfying one of the following conditions:

  • upon expiry of the lease under the contract, the lessee may take over ownership of leased assets or may continue to lease them under the agreement of the parties; or

  • upon expiry of the lease under the contract, the lessee shall have the priority right to purchase the leased assets at a nominal value less than the actual value of the leased assets as at the date of purchase; or

  • the minimum term of the lease of any single asset must equal at least 60% of the period necessary for depreciation of such leased asset; or

  • the total rent for any single asset stipulated in the finance lease contract must be equal at least to the value of such asset at the signing date of the contract.