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Asia market round up: Morgan Stanley ventures into Vietnam

In March, Morgan Stanley became the latest bulge-bracket firm to enter the increasingly crowded Vietnam securities market.

It signed a joint venture with the State Capital Investment Corporation, a strategic investment arm of the Vietnam government, to establish a securities firm that will conduct securities trading and investment banking.

SCIC, Morgan Stanley and staff will jointly own the joint venture, which will be called SCIC Morgan Stanley, although exact shareholdings have not been disclosed. That might yet prove to be relevant. Morgan Stanley was quick to establish a joint venture securities firm in China years ahead of the competition, only for its influence to diminish rapidly because it had a minority shareholding.

Morgan Stanley made much of its exclusive position as foreign equity partner in the new firm and some market observers in Vietnam noted that the firm had indeed secured a valuable partner in SCIC. Others were not so convinced; noting that SCIC might well cut further deals with other foreign partners in separate ventures.

"SCIC will do deals with anyone," said a fund manager based in Saigon. "Plus the firm still needs to get its licences. I wouldn’t get too excited just yet."

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