Concerted action needed for M&A breakthrough

It is forecasted that the value of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals in 2017 will not exceed those of 2015 and 2016, thus, the market needs a boost from enterprises and the government to leverage the opportunities from foreign capital to make a breakthrough.

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The many tastes of M&A: the happy unions, the constant fights and the arranged marriages

In 2016, the total value of all M&A deals over the world was $3.5 trillion, a reduction of 27 per cent on-year, but a high value nevertheless. However, this could be considered an ending of the global M&A’s growth period. Due to Brexit and Donald Trump’s new policies, global M&A activities are becoming harder to predict and there may be some shifts in the flow of investment capital in the world.

According to the statistics of the Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA), Vietnam hit a 10-year record hike of $5.2 billion in M&A activities in 2015. In 2016, the value of M&A deals was $5.1 billion, even though experts said that in the second half of 2016, the growth was slowed down because not many big M&A deals were publicised at the time.

It is forecasted that in 2017 without a breakthrough, the total value of M&A deals in Vietnam may not overtake 2015 and 2016 figures. For a breakthrough, the Vietnamese M&A market really requires a boost.

The most vibrant industries with the highest number of M&A deals in 2016 were the retail sector, consumer goods production, and real estate. The finance and banking industry did not have many outstanding activities last year. Some other fields, such as education and technology, also attracted M&A investment in 2016.

Foreign capital has been playing an important role in M&A activities in Vietnam with numerous sizeable deals. For example, Japanese enterprises are now strategic partners to many state-owned enterprises, such as Vietnam Airlines and Petrolimex. Similarly, a number of South Korean enterprises joined the Vietnamese market by investing in agriculture, and investors from Singapore have been paying close attention to some real estate projects.

According to some assessments made by the government and investors, the progress of equitisation and the state divestment from big enterprises is slow. A wide range of Vietnamese enterprises are luring in investors after being equitised or divested by the state, such as Saigon Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Joint Stock Corporation (Sabeco), Hanoi Beer Alcohol and Beverage Joint Stock Corporation (Habeco), Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Company (MobiFone), and Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk).

Currently, Sabeco and Habeco’s stocks have been listed on the stock exchange. However, most investors said that this step was implemented more slowly than they had expected. 

There are numerous challenges for the growth of M&A in Vietnam, including changes in the US policies, the withdrawal of the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership or the various obstacles to equitisatisation, the problems of enterprises’ quality, and the scale of the Vietnamese economy.

To achieve at least 2016’s $5.1 billion in deal value, the state divestment in some Vietnamese enterprises should be implemented more quickly and thoroughly.


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