Vietnam stock market sees record-high cancellations

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Relatively strong benchmark index growth on the two bourses indicated the improvement of the Vietnam's stock market in 2013, but an anemic economy still pushed the number of listings cancellations to record highs.

The VN-Index, the benchmark of the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE), rose by 20 percent in 2013 and was at 504.63 on the close of December 31.

The HNX-Index of the Hanoi Stock Exchange gained nearly 15 percent over the year.

According to the State Securities Commission, the Vietnamese stock market was among the top ten in the world in terms of improvement last year.

Analysts said the improvement reflected positive news on the market including the launches of a U$1.43-billion low-cost housing package and the founding of a state-run company to clear bad debts from the banking system.

However, the year saw a total of 37 firms cancel their listings, an all-time high since the launch of the stock market in 2000.

Half of the companies was forced to leave the exchanges after committing rule violations or making excessive losses.

The rest deliberately applied for listing cancellations as they complaint that their stocks fell dramatically below the par value of VND10,000 (US$0.5) or they were unable to raise enough money in the tough economy.

Nguyen Hoang Hai, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Financial Investors, said the economic slump that began a few years ago has rooted out some weak businesses.

Vietnam's leading financial insurance group BaoViet Holdings saw its stock drop 6 percent last year, closing at 37.8 on the year-end stock exchange session.

Sacombank Securities JSC, once the country's fourth-biggest brokerage a few years ago, had a mandatory withdrawal from HOSE in March, 2013 due to heavy losses. Last year the stock fell 35 percent before being delisted.

Since initial public offerings and share listings are separated processes in Vietnam, many firms have been reluctant to list their shares although they made IPOs years ago. They said the market still lacked prosperity.

The number climbed to nearly 200, including travel company VungTau Tourist in the southern coastal town of Vung Tau and paper producer Tan Mai Group in the southern province of Dong Nai.

Le Dat Chi of Ho Chi Minh City Economics University said companies whose shares fall and are unable to raise capital had better question their capability rather than blame the market.

Chi said share listings means more transparency in operations, which he said would greatly motivate companies' development.

Nguyen Van Thuan, finance-banking dean at Open University in HCMC, said delays in share listings have disappointed portfolio investors, partly leading to the state sector's sluggish privatization, a process meant to create more effective operations.

He suggested tightening the rules on IPO and share listings.

Vietnamese laws enacted in mid-November last year require firms to list their shares a year after their IPOs. Fines of VND70-100 million ($3,320-4,750) are levied on violations.

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