In place since the Vietnam War, the final end to America’s arms embargo made the headlines as Barack Obama visited Hanoi last month. Yet more surprising and faster changes are afoot elsewhere in the Socialist Republic.
Obama’s lifting of the remaining relics of US sanctions, undoubtedly helped along by growing maritime tensions with China, was accompanied by an $11 billion deal for VietJet to buy 100 Boeing jet airplanes from Boeing.
But Vietnam has been ramping up other deals too – with wider implications for foreign investors.
The most significant has been the removal of foreign ownership limits on companies listed on the stock exchange. Half a dozen companies have moved to allow 100% overseas shareholdings, including the country’s largest and most valued company at over $7 billion market capitalization, the dairy producer Vinamilk.
And then there’s real estate. Less than a year after the government allowed foreigners to own property in Vietnam, Vinacapital has helped close one of the country’s biggest ever private-equity developments – the Century 21 project in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2, with a value above $115 million.
“It really serves as a signal that what we’ve seen as a slow, protracted recovery in the real estate sector, is finally bearing fruit,” Vincapital Director Khanh Vu says in an interview on this week’s Emerging Opportunities show. “It shows that there’s a lot of confidence returning.”
The full impact is difficult to quantify, says Khanh, but it’s evident.
“What’s important is that we’re seeing an increase, a steady increase in the price for landed property, as well as for apartments. And that’s quite important – we don’t want to see a return to a creation of an asset bubble, or a return to runaway prices.”
Along with real estate, Khanh gives his outlook for the stocks benefiting most from the rise of Vietnam’s 94 million consumers.
He’s joined on the show by Marcus Svedberg, the Chief Investment Officer for East Capital, who gives his predictions for the emerging-markets winners and losers in the second half of this year.
Listen to the podcast: