Huong Trinh on VIR: M&A still in vogue despite economic headwinds

Huong Trinh, Partner and Head of Ho Chi Minh City at BDA Partners, shares her insights with Vietnam Investment Review.

With only three months of the year left, how has Vietnam’s M&A for 2023 fared so far?

Over the second and third quarters of 2023, a number of M&A transactions with deal size of over $100 million were announced. Some notable deals are the investment of up to $500 million into Masan Group Corporation led by Bain Capital, the $381 million acquisition of FV Hospital by Thomson Medical Group, and the investment into Xuyen A Hospital by Warburg Pincus. In addition, there are ongoing sizable M&A transactions across the consumer, healthcare and education sectors, which have received strong interest from both strategic and financial investors and are likely to reach the signing stage in the next six months. Even though the total deal volume in 2023 might be impacted, the average transaction value based on recent transactions has increased significantly. The healthy deal flow emphasizes investors’ confidence in the market’s long-term growth potential.

As local businesses are struggling amid a challenging economic outlook, do you see foreign investors stepping up their M&A transactions here?

Despite various macroeconomic challenges, Vietnam is expected to achieve a GDP growth rate of 5-6 per cent in 2023. The macroeconomic environment and consumer demand are expected to start to recover in the first half of 2024. Foreign investors, despite the market’s weakening performance in 2023, continue to source and monitor the investment opportunities in Vietnam. There has been a long-term view that Vietnam is one of the most attractive markets for investment in Southeast Asia thanks to its favourable demographics, resilience, as well as government efforts in improving the investment environment.

Inbound M&As remain vibrant in banking, healthcare, renewables and real estate. Why do these sectors remain a target?

Vietnam’s favourable demographics, stable socioeconomic environment, increasing disposable income, and improving investment environment remain key factors that underpin the inbound investments into the banking sector, such as the $1.5 billion acquisition of a 15 per cent stake in VPBank by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and the $850 million acquisition of 15 per cent stake in BIDV by KEB Hana Bank. Notable deals in the healthcare sector are the acquisition of FV Hospital by Thomson Medical Group, the investment into Xuyen A Hospital by Warburg Pincus, AIH by Raffles Medical Group as well as Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC’s investment into Nhi Dong 315, a Vietnamese pediatric clinic operator. In the renewable energy sector, Vietnam witnessed the $165 million acquisition of a 49 per cent stake in Vietnam solar platform Solar NT from Super Energy Corporation by AC Energy Corporation, and the $108 million acquisition of a 35 per cent stake in Gia Lai Electricity by JERA. Regarding real estate sector, there is the $250 million investment into Novaland led by Warburg Pincus, along with the $650 million investment into Vinhomes by KKR. We expect that M&A activities in these sectors will continue to increase in the future.

Do you expect any shift in investor interest in emerging fields in Vietnam, such as electronics, semiconductors, and electric vehicles?

Yes, we have seen increasing interest in these areas as a result of Vietnam’s unique positioning – strategic location, skilled workforce, cost advantages, and stable socioeconomic environment. Following the supply chain diversification which started during the pandemic, and increasing global demand for these products, Vietnam continues to invest in infrastructure and technology to become a major industrial hub in Asia. The government has taken a proactive approach in developing these new sectors. In August 2023, the Ministry of Transport submitted its proposal on special incentives for electric vehicle (EV) producers and users to a deputy prime minister. These incentives included preferential special consumption tax, exemption of licence plate issuance fees, preferential import tariffs on equipment, production lines and components for the production and assembly of EVs and batteries, and a $1,000 incentive for each EV purchases. As for semiconductors, while it is not a new area as foreign players, Samsung, Amkor Technology, and Hana Micron have already established presence in Vietnam. Such moves have been in the spotlight recently, being a key topic of discussion at the Vietnam – US Summit in September 2023. The Vietnam – US comprehensive strategic partnership and the government support will help Vietnam’s semiconductor industry to develop further.

About BDA Partners

BDA Partners is the global investment banking advisor for Asia. We are a premium provider of Asia-related advice to sophisticated clients globally, with over 25 years’ experience advising on cross-border M&A, capital raising, and financial restructuring. We provide global reach with our teams in New York and London, and true regional depth through our seven Asian offices in Mumbai, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo. BDA has deep expertise in the Chemicals, Consumer & Retail, Health, Industrials, Services, Sustainability and Technology sectors. We work relentlessly to earn our clients’ trust by delivering insightful advice and outstanding outcomes.

BDA Partners has strategic partnerships with William Blair, a premier global investment banking business, and with DBJ (Development Bank of Japan), a Japanese Government-owned bank with US$150bn of assets. bdapartners.com

Latest insights