Plummeting stock prices raise fears of businesses being acquired hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA)
- As many stocks have plunged below their real value, foreign funds are combing Vietnamese shares, raising fears that Vietnamese companies will be acquired by 'shark' investors.

Like many markets in the world hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnamese shares have lost about 20 percent in value this year. Many stocks have seen their price hit historic lows, attracting large investment funds to buy shares in bulk.

The General Statistics Office (GSO)'s data showed the value of foreign indirect investment, which includes capital contributions and equity purchases, in the first quarter of this year increased to 2,523 transactions worth a total of 2 billion USD, compared to 1,653 transactions in the same period last year.

The value of capital contributions and share purchases of foreign investors in the first quarter of 2019 reached 5.69 billion USD but nearly 70 percent of this value was the conversion of debt into equity of Beerco Limited (ThaiBev's subsidiary in Hong Kong) to Vietnam Beverage Co Ltd.

The strongest trade occurred in March – the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam.

Big deals included JPMorgan Vietnam Opportunities Fund transferring 2 million shares of Military Bank (MBB) to Vietnam Growth Stock Income Mother Fund (worth about 34 billion VND) and NTAsian Emerging Leaders MasterFund transferring 1.3 million shares of Mobile World Investment Joint Stock Company to Asian Smaller Companies Fund and Vietnam Growth Stock Income Mother Fund.

On April 13, Aquila SPC Ltd (related to Dragon Capital) also transferred 420,000 MWG shares to Arisaig Asia Consumer Fund.

The PVI Opportunity Investment Fund (POF) bought 3.9 million shares of Vinaconex Power Development & Construction Investment Joint Stock Company (VCP), raising its holding to 13.9 million shares, or 24.39 percent.

On April 23, VinaCapital's fund group acquired 50,000 shares of Phuoc Hoa Rubber Joint Stock Company, sticker PHR on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE), increasing its ownership to 5 percent.

According to AFC Vietnam Fund, many stocks on the exchanges are undervalued compared to the corporate value, something rare in developed markets. Therefore, these stocks are very attractive to major investors, including AFC Vietnam.

A representative of VinaCapital Investment Fund said they had a large amount of cash and were seeking investment opportunities when the price is right.

According to Phan Dung Khanh, investment director of Maybank Kim Eng Securities, there were opportunities to acquire businesses on the stock market because the stock price was very low. The important thing would be to choose which business at what price and when.

Le Dat Chi, deputy head of Business Finance Department of University of Economics HCM City, said the crisis was an opportunity for the acquirers.

"Many stocks have lost 70-80 percent of their value and there is no reason for companies and investment funds with big money not to buy," Chi was quoted as saying on the

This explained why a number of businesses and members of the board of directors of companies recently registered to buy back shares to not only invest but counter acquisition attempts of rival businesses and investment funds, Chi said.

Preliminary statistics from the stock exchanges showed that as of April 10, members of the boards of directors and internal shareholders of listed companies had registered to buy shares worth up to 750 million USD, of which they successfully bought shares worth 455 million USD. Companies have also registered to buy back shares worth up to thousands of billions of VND./.