On 15 August 2019, the Prime Minister of Vietnam issued Decision No. 26/2019/QD-TTg ("Decision 26") on the list of State-owned enterprises ("SOEs") to be equitized by the end of 2020.
Under Decision 26, the Prime Minister has approved a list of 93 SOEs in which the State will hold (i) more than 65%, (ii) from 50% to 65%, or (iii) less than 50%, of the charter capital. This list shall replace the previous list of 137 SOEs to be privatized under the previous Decision 58/2016/QD-TTg in 2016 of the Prime Minister ("Decision 58").
More notably, pursuant to Decision 26:
- the State shall continue to hold a majority stake (i.e. more than 65%) in 4 SOEs, including Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank), Vietnam National Coal–Mineral Industries Holding Corporation, (Vinacomin), Vietnam Northern Food Corporation (Vinafood 1), and Thua Thien Hue Minerals Co., Ltd;
- there will be 62 other SOEs in which the State shall hold from 50% to 65% stake, including major corporations such as MobiFone Corporation (MobiFone), Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), Vietnam Cement Industry Corporation (VICEM), Hanoi Transport and Services Corporation (Transerco), Urban Infrastructure Development and Investment (UDIC), Vietnam National Chemical Group (Vinachem) among others; and
- for the remaining 27 SOEs, the State shall hold less than 50% , these include Vietnam Paper Corporation, Saigon Jewelry Company (SJC), Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUD), or two powergenerating units of Vietnam Electricity Group (i.e., EVN Genco 1 and EVN Genco 2).
It is noted that, the list of 103 SOEs under previous Decision 58 where the State will own 100% of charter capital remains unchanged under this Decision 26. In general, the State will continue to hold 100% of the charter capital in SOEs which conduct business in important and sensitive sectors, such as: electricity distribution, national electricity system dispatching, air traffic services, aeronautical information services, and search and rescue services, public postal services, lottery businesses, publishing (excluding printing and publication), printing and manufacturing of notes and gold bullion and golden souvenirs, credit instruments for socio-economic development, services for banking system and credit institution safety.
As stipulated in Decision 26, the relevant Ministers, Chairmen of municipal People’s Committees and board members of the SOEs (i) must submit the quarterly report of the progress of the privatization process to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Finance and the Steering Committee for Enterprise Renewal and Development for supervision, and (ii) may face disciplinary measures for the delay or failure of completing the privatization process of SOEs. In general, the SOEs would have only 15 months to complete the privatization process, which is considered a major challenge.
Decision 26 shall have immediate effect and shows effort by the Vietnam Government to hasten the SOE privatization process.
While the SOE privatization and state capital divestment may offer ample opportunity for private investors to invest in some of Vietnam's leading market players, several legal difficulties and issues (such as lengthy and complicated procedures, management control, entering into shareholder agreements, etc.) may impact the effectiveness of such investment.