Vietnamese firms no longer mere targets in M&A deals: experts

By Duc Minh   October 17, 2021 | 11:25 pm PT
Vietnamese firms no longer mere targets in M&A deals: experts
The E-mart megamarket in Go Vap District, HCMC. Vietnamese automaker THACO concludes negotiations to acquire a 100 percent stake in E-mart Vietnam Co in May 2021. Photo courtesy of E-mart Vietnam Co
Vietnamese companies are increasingly assertive in M&A deals, seeking to partner with foreign companies rather than becoming mere targets for acquisition.

"There was a time when we were worried that foreign companies might devour domestic ones, and we even considered drafting policies to prevent this," Phan Duc Hieu, standing member of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee, said.

"But that is no longer a concern," he told a recent forum.

In 2018 Vietnamese companies were buyers only in 18 percent of M&A deals, but the figure rose to 30 percent in 2019 and last year.

During the pandemic, many "partnerships" were formed through M&A, instead of foreign companies absorbing local ones, he said.

Eighty percent of M&A deals in 2019-21 involved acquisition of majority stakes, 11 percent were mergers and the rest were joint ventures, he added.

Company leaders too spoke about this changing trend.

Investment fund Dragon Capital Vietnam, which manages assets of $4 billion, was able to conduct 10 deals in the last 18 months, in which it sold stakes of 10 percent and more, fund manager Vu Huu Dien said.

It also indicated a change in buyers’ approach, he said, pointing out that while earlier they only used to look for large companies and buy a 50 percent stake, now they buy even 20–30 percent.

"Vietnamese businesses are very entrepreneurial, and buyers see the pandemic as a big opportunity to buy," and some even make the decision to buy online, he said.

The trend is likely to continue in the next few years, and soon Vietnamese companies would start buying foreign ones, he added.

Other experts at the forum said that the four countries with a major interest in M&A deals in Vietnam are Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.

The main areas of interest for foreign investors are real estate, finance, banking, education, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and green energy.

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