Markets

VIETNAM

Vietnam has the 14th larggest population in the world and the 51st fastest growing economy (est. 2011). It also has the 17th highest number of Internet users, the 4th highest Internet penetration (35.4%) in South East Asia and the 7th highest number of mobile phone subscribers in the world.

The latest population estimates for 2012 show a population 91.52m of whom 29.9% live in urban areas - in 2005, urban households made up 28.5% of all households; by 2025 it is predicted that this figure will increase to 42.1%. Vietnam's total population is projected to grow at 0.8% per annum to 2025 with a median age of 28.2 years currently. The unemployment rate stable at around 2.88%.

With the world economy still experiencing significant and continuing shocks, many companies are seeking growth opportunities in new markets – by way of example, according to a recent study 57% of US companies wish to expand their business in SEA and 75% of them note Vietnam as their top destination for expansion.

HCM Cityscape

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Africa's equity markets are hot. The sub-Saharan region has witnessed a GDP growth rate of more than 5% over the past three years, attracting more investors by the day. The main markets in Nigeria and Kenya have risen by more than 50% in the past year, while over the last decade the continent has supplied six of the world's ten economies with the fastest growth.

According to McKinsey, by 2020 more than half of African households will have enough income to spend on non-essentials. Also, more than half of Africa's population is currently aged under 20 and within three decades it will have a larger working-age population than China.

However, Africa is short of savings and capital which creates an opening for rich-world investors seeking a better return than is available at home. A typical rich-world deal might involve a mature but torpid firm, which is acquired and loaded with debt to magnify the returns of the equity owners. In Africa however, the returns come from revenue growth and efficiency gains, not from financial engineering. By way of context, the big-picture story is one of progress towards a formal and regulated economy with stable politics, independent central banks and stricter accounting rules.

Nairobi Cityscape