BEST VIETNAM CLOSED END FUNDS (CEFs) ON THE STOCK MARKET?

ETFs might first enter the minds of investors when looking to investing in foreign markets, but Closed End Funds (CEFs) shouldn’t be forgotten as an option, even for investing in the Vietnam stock market.

Some may even be surprised to learn you can effectively buy $1 worth of investment assets for circa 85 cents. In fact in times of panic the price you pay may be even a whole lot lower. In this blog post I will take more of a look at the best Vietnam Closed End Funds (CEFs) on the stock market.

Investing in Vietnam CEFs FOR 2022 AND BEYOND

In a recent blog post I briefly mentioned a few CEFs one could look at to get exposure to the Vietnam stock market. If you want to learn more about whether to choose an ETF vs CEF or open ended fund, don’t forget to checkout that blog post here first, HOW TO INVEST IN THE VIETNAM STOCK MARKET. ETF, CEF, FUND? – VIETNAM STOCK MARKET (vietnamesestockmarket.com). Here are the list of CEFs again below:

List of Vietnam Closed End Funds (CEFs)

These are 3 well known Closed End Funds (CEFs) with exposure to the Vietnam stock market, but with their main listings on the London Stock Exchange.

  • Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF LN), managed by VinaCapital.
  • Vietnam Enterprise Investments Ltd (VEIL LN), managed by Dragon Capital.
  • Vietnam Holding Ltd (VNH LN), managed by Dynam Capital.

I will not take a bit of a closer look at these options.

comparison of vietnam closed end funds

Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF LN) Review / Brief Summary

VOF LN CEF Objective – VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Ltd (“the Company” or “VOF”) is a closed-end fund trading on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market.

Launched in 2003, VOF provides investors with access to the Vietnamese market across a range of industry sectors and asset classes, including but not limited to listed and unlisted equity*, private equity, operating assets and real estate projects. Investments are selected to target growth on the basis of the best risk-adjusted rates of return.

VOF’s objective is to achieve medium to long-term returns through investment in assets either in Vietnam or in companies with a substantial majority of their assets, operations, revenues or income in, or derived from, Vietnam.

VOF LN CEF Discount to NAV May 31 2021 – 16%

VOF LN CEF Size – $US 1,322 million

Exchange – London

VOF LN CEF Fees – Base fee is 1.5% for up to US$500 million of the assets, then 1.25% between US$500 and US$1,000 million, and 1% for US$1,000-1,500 million etc. If the fund size managed to go over US$2,000 million, the base fee would be just 0.5% on the amounts above this. The performance fee has now come down to 12.5% of outperformance, based off a hurdle rate of a nominal 8% per annum return.

VOF LN CEF Top holdings

VOF LN CEF Performance 10 years to June 30 2020– Note VN Index has risen substantially since June 30, 2020.

Zooming in on the last 5 years to May 31, 2021, a strong period for Vietnam stocks, their performance table from the latest monthly fact sheet is below:

Source: VinaCapital May 2021 & Vietnam Opportunity Fund Annual Report 2020

Vietnam Enterprise Investments Ltd (VEIL LN) Review / Brief Summary

VEIL LN CEF Objective – The Fund seeks long-term capital appreciation via holdings in listed and pre-IPO companies. Investment criteria are attractive growth and value metrics, good corporate governance, and alignment with Vietnam’s underlying growth drivers. The Fund may also hold equity-linked instruments and private equity. VEIL maintains a broad universe, which includes companies operating and/or listed outside of Vietnam, and it looks to outperform the VN Index on a rolling three-year basis.

VEIL LN CEF Discount to NAV May 31 2021 – 16%

VEIL LN CEF Size – $US 2,432 million

Exchange – London

VEIL LN CEF Fees – With effect from 1 July 2021, the management fee will be amended to 1.85% per annum of Net Asset Value (“NAV”) for the first US$1.25 billion of the Company’s NAV, reducing to 1.65% per annum for NAV between US$1.25 billion and US$1.5 billion and further reducing to 1.50% per annum for NAV above US$1.5 billion.

There is no performance fee and the TER is approximately 2.35%

VEIL LN CEF Top holdings

VEIL LN CEF Performance

Last 5 years to May 31, 2021

Source: Dragon Capital Vietnam Enterprise Investments Limited Factsheet May 2021

Source: Dragon Capital Vietnam Enterprise Investments Limited Annual Report 2020

Vietnam Holding Ltd (VNH LN) Review / Brief Summary

VNH LN CEF Objective – VietNam Holding Ltd (VNH) is a closed-end fund listed on the London Stock Exchange. VNH aims to achieve long-term capital appreciation by investing in high-growth companies in Vietnam. It has an actively managed, high conviction portfolio with integrated ESG. Core investment themes are domestic consumption, industrialisation and urbanization.

VNH LN CEF CEF Discount to NAV May 31 2021 – 19%

VNH LN CEF Size – $US 188 million

Exchange – London

VNH LN CEF Fees

VNH LN CEF Top holdings

VNH LN CEF Performance 10 years to May 31, 2021 (manager changed in 2018 to Dynam Capital)

Source: Vietnam Holding May 31 2021

should i invest in vietnam and how best to invest in their stockmarket?

Conclusion of the best Vietnam closed end funds (CEFs) on the stock market

Overall from these CEFs it is hard to go past the track record of Vietnam Enterprise Investments Ltd (VEIL LN). Performance reports from fund managers are renowned for slicing & dicing the numbers to suit. Do they incorporate all fees, taxes, time periods etc the list goes on and on? Therefore I encourage readers to do further digging of what I presented. This is just a starting point and I do plan on doing future blog posts that look more into the details. However doing a quick check on the NAV over the last decade to me gives comfort that Vietnam Enterprise Investments Ltd (VEIL LN) has added plenty of value for its shareholders.

I have historically shown a personal preference for Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF LN). This has served me very nicely although in hindsight I would have been better of investing in Vietnam Enterprise Investments Ltd (VEIL LN). I do have some comfort how Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF LN) have dealt with shareholder governance issues, and their ability to add alpha, often via being skilled in identifying opportunities at the private equity stage. I plan to retain my position as it also is sitting on significant taxable gains were I to sell. Size wise comparing these 3 funds, it sits between the larger VEIL LN & the much smaller VNH LN which I prefer. I am curious to get to know VEIL LN more though in the future. Perhaps it has some potential for me if the market suffers a significant correction and I wish to allocate more funds to the region.

As an aside, with VOF LN, the CIO there is Andy Ho who joined VInaCapital in 2007, so plenty of stability there. Andy Ho has a new book out called “Crossing the Street” which I recommend, I plan to maybe elaborate with a book review later in a future blog post.

We can conclude though that either of the above CEFs just mentioned, despite significantly higher management fees than ETFs, have outperformed VanEck Vectors Vietnam ETF (VNM US) by a large margin. There is also the potential performance booster if you have happened to pick up one of these CEFs at the wider point of the historical discount to NAV ranges.

In relation to Vietnam Holding Ltd (VNH LN), I would note the much smaller size. Whilst this can help in it being nimbler to trade smaller capitalized opportunities on the market, it means there is less scale in terms of absorbing costs of running the fund. Despite that I expect them to probably be able to beat the VN Index in the long run even after their higher base management fees. The size issue is probably why they trade at a larger discount to NAV than VOF LN & VEIL LN. VNH LN might be worth keeping an eye on if that discount gets excessively wide. I notice there is a continuation vote that takes place in 2023. They are pure equity focused (no other asset classes), and Dynam Capital took over managing this fund a few years ago.

Obviously these 3 CEFs have clearly higher management fees and costs compared to ETFs that focus on Vietnam. However arguably this is worth it, and that frontier markets might still be relatively less efficient, meaning they can still add alpha going forward. The fees are a lot easier to stomach if you are able to accumulate CEFs like above at decent discounts, such as greater than 15%. In recent times it looks like that opportunity still exists, albeit not the larger discounts we have seen during their histories in times when Vietnam is out of favour, or general times of market panic.

BEST CLOSED END FUNDS FOR INCOME

For those investors looking for steady income, I would point out that Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF LN) aims to pay out at least 2% of NAV a year. This has been a consistent message for many years so I expect it to continue at least at this rate or more. When you combine that aspect with potentially picking up the stock at a sizeable discount to NAV, the effective yield can be quite attractive.

SHARESIGHT REVIEW

As discussed in recent blog posts, I am a shareholder in the VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund. To read more about my experiment tracking the performance of that and other Vietnam related exposures in my portfolio, check out the following link:

SHARESIGHT PORTFOLIO TRACKER REVIEW 2022 – VIETNAM STOCK MARKET (vietnamesestockmarket.com)

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Is Vietnam a good investment?

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