The total value of merger and acquisition (M&A) deals in Vietnam reached 1.5 billion USD in the first quarter of this year.

At a recent conference in Hanoi, Nguyen Anh Tuan, head of the M&A Vietnam Forum 2012 organising board, said the country now ranked 8th among nations which witnessed the busiest M&A activities in the Asia-Pacific region, adding that the total M&A transaction value of the region, excluding Japan, reached 92.4 billion USD.

Quoting data from researchers including Thomson Reuters, IMAA and AVM, Tuan said M&A activities in Vietnam grew on average 30 percent per year in recent years, having become a remarkable investment channel for both local and foreign enterprises.

According to the researchers, the country had 345 M&A deals worth a combined 1.7 billion USD in 2010.

M&A values increased sharply by 135 percent last year, totalling a record 4.7 billion USD, with over 2.6 billion USD involving foreign investors.

In terms of quantity, 77 percent of last year's transactions involved local firms, proving the activities were busy among domestic players despite their small values.

In terms of deal values, foreign investors represented 66 percent, a ratio showing that they tended to buy quality companies in Vietnam .

Tuan said M&A is expected to grow at over 30 percent per year in the coming time, with consumer goods, banking and finance and real estate forecast to continue to be the most attractive sectors.

Japan was leading foreign countries whose enterprises had carried out M&A activities in Vietnam , he noted, with highlighted deals including Mizuho becoming a strategic partner of Vietcombank and Unicham buying a 95-percent stake of Diana.

Bao Viet Securities Co was the advisor for the mergers of confectioners North Kinh Do and then Kido with their parent Kinh Do Corporation. Another merger it advised was between property firm Vinpearl and its parent Vincom, whose charter capital has risen to 5.5 trillion VND (300 million USD).

Bao Viet Securities General Director Nhu Dinh Hoa said an incomplete legal framework remained the biggest obstacle for M&A in Vietnam .

The M&A Vietnam Forum 2012 will be held in HCM City on June 7 by Vietnam Investment Review and AVM Vietnam, with sponsorship from the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The forum will focus on the restructuring of banks and State-run enterprises and Japanese enterprises' M&A waves in Vietnam.-VNA