Vietnam mulls lifting limit on foreign ownership at securities firms

Thanh Nien News

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The State Securities Commission of Vietnam has again asked the government to lift restrictions barring foreign ownership of securities companies.
The commission submitted its latest proposal to the Ministry of Finance on Monday--once again arguing that foreign investors should be allowed to own more than 49 percent of securities companies, news website Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon (Saigon Times) reported.
The commission argued that securities companies would be the easiest to open to foreign ownership – all they require is the consent of their shareholders and the commission.
Vietnam’s existing laws allow two kinds of foreign-owned securities companies: those that are 100 percent foreign-owned and those that are 49 percent owned by foreign investors.
Vietnam currently has some 90 securities companies, nearly half of which operate with foreign investment, according to the news report.
More than 10 of the companies, foreign institutions have 49 percent stakes in a Vietnamese investment firm. Maybank Kim Eng is the sole wholly foreign-owned firm.
Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon reported that foreign investors are reluctant to purchase an entire Vietnamese securities company because they want local investors.
Vu Bang, chairman of the commission, was quoted as saying that Vietnam needs to lift restrictions on foreign ownership at securities companies soon to ensure its compliance with the standards set forth by the World Trade Organization.
The commission first announced its draft plan to lift the limits in January of last year, but the draft has since undergone numerous adjustments, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, under the government’s order, has been evaluating various types of businesses that should be allowed to clear the restrictions, it said.
It is difficult to implement the project as soon as planned, Bang told the news site--warning that many people have capitalized on the plan’s information to increase stock prices, so investors should remain cautious and wait for official notices from state agencies to avoid losses.

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