Can a limited liability company in Vietnam sell its new capital contribution for a premium?

A profitable and well-run company usually demands a “premium” when it issues new equity to investors. This means that in a profitable company, a new investor may be required to pay more than the price paid by an existing investor for the same amount of equity and voting rights in the past. Usually, the difference between the price of the new equity portion and the nominal value of such equity portion is referred to as premium.

However, it appears that a limited liability company (LLC) in Vietnam may not be able to do so without changing the voting rights of existing members. This is because:

  • Other than in the context of a joint stock company (JSC), there is no legal concept of equity capital premium in the Enterprise Law and in accounting regulations. “Par value” of shares only exists in the context of shares in JSCs. And under Circular 19/2003, the difference between issuance price of new shares by a JSC and their aggregate par values could be recorded as “capital premium accounts”. On the other hand, capital contribution in a charter capital of a LLC does not have a “par value”.  There is no legal concept for the difference between the price of the new capital contribution portion and the nominal value of such capital contribution portion. Therefore, LLC does not have capital contribution premium if it issues new capital contribution;
  • Decree 102/2010  further provides that charter capital of a LLC with two or more members is “the total value of capital portions” already contributed or undertaken to be contributed within a certain period by its members and is stated in the company charter. If the value of all assets contributed by members of a LLC including new members constitutes the charter capital of such LLC then there is no capital contribution premium in a LCC. In addition, under Decree 102/2010, all amounts paid by a new member of a LLC should carry voting rights; and
  • Tax regulations only expressly exempt corporate income tax on share premium received by a JSC. Therefore, there is no certainty that a LLC will be exempted from capital contribution premium.

In light of the above, a LLC wishing to issue new capital contribution at a premium may consider an alternative structure which allows such a LLC to record the actual value of the amount to be contributed by the new member and at the same time maintains the desired ownership percentage and voting among all members.