Country update-Vietnam: Securities & Banking
The State Bank of Vietnam (Ngan hang Nha nuoc Viet Nam, SBV) is the central bank of Vietnam. It is a ministry-level body under the administration of the government. The SBV governor is a member of the cabinet. The prime minister and the parliament of Vietnam (National Assembly) act jointly to nominate the governor of the SBV. The SBV’s principal roles are to:
Support monetary stability and implement monetary policies.
Support institutions’ stability and supervise financial institutions.
Support banking facilities and recommend economic policies to the government.
Support banking facilities for financial institutions.
Manage the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
Manage foreign exchange and gold trading activities.
Manage the borrowing and repayment of foreign loans, the provision of loans to foreign parties and recovery of foreign debts.
Print and issue bank notes.
Supervise all commercial banks’ activities in Vietnam.
Lend State money to commercial banks
Join the Ministry of Finance in issuing government bonds and government-guaranteed bonds.
Act as an agent for the State Treasury in organizing bids and in issuing, depositing and making payment for treasury bonds and bills.
Be in charge of other roles in monetary management and foreign exchange rates.
In 1990 the bank system was reorganized. This process led to a separation of the SBV from other commercial banks and was the start of the establishment of the private banking sector. A small number of major state-owned commercial banks still dominate Vietnam’s banking sector.
However, today a process of privatization is underway and the goal is to reduce the state’s share of ownership step-by-step to at least 65 percent during 2018 – 2020, and 51 percent during 2021 – 2025 under Decision No. 986/QĐ-TTg dated August 8, 2018 of the Prime Minister approving the plan for development of Vietnamese banks up to 2025, vision to 2030.
As of 31 March 2021, the State’s ownership ratios in 4 largest state-owned commercial banks are as follows: (i) 80.99 percent in BIDV, (ii) 74.8 percent in Vietcombank, (iii) 64.46 percent in Vietinbank, and (iv) 100 percent in Agribank.
Foreign ownership restrictions for Vietnamese Credit Institutions
On January 3, 2014, the government-adopted Decree 01/2014/ND-CP on purchase by foreign investors of shareholding in Vietnamese credit institutions. Decree 01 became effective on February 20, 2014 and replaced Decree 69/2007/ND-CP on purchase by foreign investors of shareholding in Vietnamese commercial banks.
In Decree 01, Vietnamese credit institutions, which may offer shares, include:
shareholding credit institutions (i.e., a credit institution established and organized in the form of a shareholding company and include shareholding commercial banks, shareholding finance companies and shareholding finance leasing companies); and credit institution currently converting its legal form from a credit institution operating in the form of a limited liability company to become a credit institution operating in the form of a shareholding company.
Foreign investor includes foreign organizations [institutions] and foreign individuals. Foreign organizations include:
Organizations established and operating under the laws of a foreign country and any branch of such institutions overseas or in Vietnam; and an organization, closed-ended fund, members’ fund or securities investment company established and operating in Vietnam with foreign capital contribution ratio above 49 percent. Foreign individual means any person who does not hold Vietnamese nationality.
Decree 01 defines that shareholding ownership [shareholding] includes direct and indirect ownership. However, Decree 01 does not explain clearly the scope of direct and indirect ownership.
In a case of purchase of shareholding by a foreign investor in a Vietnamese credit institution resulting in such foreign investor’s ownership of shares below 5 percent charter capital of the Vietnamese credit institution, a prior approval of the SBV is not required. In other cases, any acquisition by foreign investors of shareholdings in a Vietnamese credit institution requires the prior approval of the SBV.
The shareholding ratio of any one foreign individual must not exceed 5 percent of the charter capital of one Vietnamese credit institution. The shareholding ratio of any one foreign organization must not exceed 15 percent of the charter capital of one Vietnamese credit institution.
Any foreign investor being an organization owning 10 percent or more of the charter capital of any one Vietnamese credit institution is not permitted to assign the shareholding it owns to any other organization or individual within a minimum three year period as from the date of ownership of 10 percent or more of the charter capital in such credit institution.
The shareholding ratio of any one strategic foreign investor must not exceed 20 percent of the charter capital of one Vietnamese credit institution. The investor may not transfer its shares in the Vietnamese credit institution within five years after becoming the foreign strategic investor in the Vietnamese credit institution.
A strategic investor is defined as a foreign organization with financial capacity and whose authorized person provides a written undertaking to have a close connection regarding long-term interests with the Vietnamese credit institution and to assist the latter to transfer to modern technology, to develop banking products and services, and to raise its financial, managerial and operational capacity.
The shareholding ratio of any one foreign investor and its affiliates must not exceed 20 percent of the charter capital of one Vietnamese credit institution. The total shareholding ownership of [all] foreign investors must not exceed 30 percent of the charter capital of any one Vietnamese commercial bank.
The total shareholding ownership of [all] foreign investors in any one Vietnamese non-banking credit institution shall be implemented in accordance with the law applicable to public companies and listed. When there are none specific regulations on the rate of foreign ownership, the maximum rate of foreign ownership will be 49% of charter capital of such institution.
In a special case in order to implement restructuring of a credit institution which is weak [and/or] facing difficulties, in order to ensure safety of the credit institution system, the Prime Minister may, on a case-by-case basis, make a decision on the total shareholding ratio of any one foreign organization [or] any one foreign strategic investor, and the total level of shareholding of foreign investors in any weak shareholding credit institution which is restructured, in excess of the limits described above.
Under the Government’s instruction in 2018, the MoF is required to draft a Government’s decree to allow foreign ownership ratio in commercial banks in Vietnam up to 50 percent. However, this decree would only be…
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