Vietnam a top ASEAN destination for private equity investment

By Dat Nguyen   May 22, 2019 | 01:57 pm GMT+7
Vietnam a top ASEAN destination for private equity investment
A man works at an e-scooter assembly line of a motorcycle factory in Hai Phong City, Vietnam. Photo by Reuters
Vietnam underlined its attractiveness as a destination for private equity investment with a 285 percent jump year-on-year to $1.6 billion last year.

The figure put Vietnam among the top three ASEAN countries in attracting private equity investment, said a report by Grant Thornton, a tax and advisory service provider.

The capital was raised in 38 major deals, the highest number in a decade, with 27 startups, it said, citing data from Bureau Van Dijk, a Moody’s analytics company.

Technology remained the most attractive area, accounting for 40 percent of total number of deals.

Grant Thornton said that Vietnam has the potentials to remain a leading destination in ASEAN for private equity investment.

In the coming months, fintech is set to be the most attractive sector for investors as the government strives to build a cashless society. It was followed by education and green/renewable energy.

However, investors also expressed concern about the business environment in Vietnam.

The majority, 87 percent, said they were worried about inconsistent investment regulations and policies, as well as corruption.

Seventy-six percent said a lack of transparency in business information was a constraint in striking deals.

The lack of skilled human resources was another constraint mentioned by investors. Seven of ten private equity investors said it was difficult for them to find the right talent. They struggle to make early, high-impact talent decisions, the report said.

Ineffective corporate governance by local firms was also a challenge for investors. The country scored just 41.3 points of over 130 in the 2017-2018 corporate governance scorecard, while Thailand scored 82.

"Improper management practices and lack of effective corporate governance are hindering Vietnamese firms’ competitiveness, making Vietnamese businesses ‘slow to grow,’" the report said.

For several years now, Vietnam has been seeking to strengthen its private sector as the majority of the country’s exports are made by foreign direct investment businesses.

Last year, local firms accounted for just 28.3 percent of exports, while FDI firms accounted for 71.7 percent, according to the General Statistics Office.

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