BUSINESS NEWS IN BRIEF 19/7

F&N submits bid for Vinamilk: 16th time the charm

F&N Dairy Investments Pte., Ltd has been repeatedly registering to buy more than 14.5 million shares to raise ownership in Vinamilk (code: VNM).

F&N Dairy Investment Pte., Ltd has just registered to buy 14,512,467 VNM shares on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HSX) between July 11 and August 9, 2018.

If the transaction is successful, the investor will raise ownership from 254,246,968 shares (17.31 per cent) to 265,759,453 shares (18.31 per cent) in Vinamilk.

This is the 16th time F&N Dairy Investments has professed to its ambition to raise ownership in Vinamilk. Earlier, the fund also registered but failed to buy the same amount of shares between June 6 and July 5, 2018.

At the latest successful transaction, F&N registered to buy 14,512,636 shares from May 2 to 31, 2018, however, only 130,000 shares were matched.

According to HSX, since 2017, F&N Dairy Investment has registered to buy VNM stocks 15 times via auction, failing at each turn.

On July 5, VNM was lightly reduced to VND165,000 ($7.3). If this registration is successful, F&N expects to spend nearly VND2.4 trillion ($105.5 million) on 1 per cent of Vinamilk’s charter capital.

F&N Dairy Investments is a subsidiary of Fraser & Neave Limited (F&N), a food and beverage, publishing, and former brewing and property conglomerate in Singapore held by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. Lee Meng Tat is general director of F&N as well as member of Vinamilk’s Board of Management.

Recently, another Singaporean foreign fund, Platinum Victory Pte., Ltd. also registered to buy more than 14.5 million VNM shares between June 13 and July 12, 2018 via auction or negotiated transaction. If this transaction is successful, the fund will raise its ownership from 154 million shares (10.61 per cent) to over 168 million shares (11.61 per cent).

Reed Tradex ties up with VECOM to promote the trend of omnichannel retailing

Thailand’s exhibition organiser Reed Tradex in collaboration with Vietnam e-Commerce Association (VECOM) will organise OnlineBiz Vietnam within the framework of Shop and Store Vietnam 2019 to cater to both online and offline retail.

According to Suttisak Wilanan, deputy managing director of Reed Tradex, growth in Vietnam’s e-commerce industry is escalating with continual rise in Internet user number and e-commerce value, with spending per user up 14 per cent from last year.

The country’s working age population (those aged between 15 and 64) accounted for 70 per cent of total population. With a young, tech-savvy population with high consumption demand, e-commerce in Vietnam has plenty of potential to grow.

“The launch of OnlineBiz Vietnam will complement Shop and Store Vietnam (SSV) to serve both online and offline retail. This annual event will be a unique B2B solutions for retailers who look for omnichannel solutions to maximize their customer experience,” he said.

On the same note, Nguyen Ngoc Dung, vice chairman of VECOM said that Vietnam’s e-commerce industry has enjoyed a compound annual growth rate of 35 per cent. The fast-growing e-commerce industry is changing consumer shopping behaviors as well as payment methods.

He pointed out that the rise of online shopping in Vietnam has been fueled by a significant growth in the number of smartphone and Internet users. This encourages more traditional enterprises to sell products online to meet the sophisticated demand of the omnichannel shoppers.

The first edition of Shop & Store Vietnam closed its curtain at Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre (SECC) on March 30, 2018. Shop & Store Vietnam 2018 attracted 70 brands from over 18 countries as well as 3,294 trade buyers.

The event was brimming with a full spectrum of powerful retail technologies, solutions, and well known franchise brands from a diverse ranges of sectors such as food & beverages, beauty & health, education, retail store and many more by hundreds of key franchise brands and technology owners.

The second edition of Shop & Store Vietnam is slated to take place at SECC from March 27 – 29, 2019. Especially with the cooperation with VECOM, all the participants at the event can discover latest trend and retail innovations, build network, and get insights and tips from specialists in concurrent e-commerce seminar that would respond to their business needs.

Unusual lawsuit between Posco VST and Thanh Nam Group

The lawsuit between Posco VST and Thanh Nam Group is somewhat unusual as the court has yet to hear the content of the lawsuit despite it being filed four years ago. Meanwhile, defendant Thanh Nam Group expects a fair and equitable trial to solve the roots of the problems soon.

In May 2018, the Hanoi People’ Court has announced that it was unlawful for the South Tu Liem Court to dismiss the lawsuit between Posco VST and Thanh Nam on the ground that the statutory limitation has expired.

According to the Hanoi People’ Court, the statutory limitation has yet to expire because there were debt reconciliation minutes between the two companies in 2015. Thus, the Hanoi People’ Court overruled the verdict of the South Tu Liem Court and returned the documents for further consideration.

The lawsuit gained public attention because of its duration. The case was brought to the municipal court to resolve rather than the district court as prescribed by the regulations.

Thanh Nam is a major steel supplier in Vietnam with products available in overseas markets such as South Korea, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, among others.

Thanh Nam conducted numerous transactions with Posco VST. The two companies signed a contract under which Posco VST was to supply stainless steel to Thanh Nam in 2010-2013. However, Thanh Nam could not meet the payment planby the end of 2013, so Posco VST filed a lawsuit over a debt of more than VND58 billion ($2.52 million).

Up to now, Posco VST has sued Thanh Nam three times. Posco VST first sued on March 2014 at the South Tu Liem Court to ask for VND58 billion in payment. The petition was returned due to insufficient documentation.

In March 2015, Posco VST filed for the second time. However, the case was suspended because the representative of Posco VST was absent from court twice without justifiable reasons.

In November 2016, Posco VST once again sued Thanh Nam. This time, the South Tu Liem Court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the statutory limitation has expired. The judgement was overruled by the Hanoi People's Court in the appellate hearing in May 2018.

During the appellate hearing, Posco VST said that bringing a lawsuit was made difficult by the court. Meanwhile, Thanh Nam Group was furious because Posco VST, as the plaintiff, was absent from court several times. Therefore, the trial has yet to actually hear the contents of the lawsuit after being filed four years ago.

According to Posco VST, the debts come from the purchasing and selling of goods between Thanh Nam and Posco VST during 2010 and 2013. Looking at the cumulative payments, the two companies would compare and determine their debt figures.

On March 6, 2013, Posco VST and Thanh Nam Group made the debt reconciliation minutes. On November 27, 2013, the chief accountants of the two sides confirmed that Thanh Nam Group would pay Posco VST an amount of VND58 billion in total.

Meanwhile, Thanh Nam said that Posco VST often makes invoices before delivery. In the debt reconciliation minute, it specifies “the debt created by the sales invoice” and that the “two sides continue to clarify the figures.” This means that the debt was only recorded on Posco VST's invoices but it was not based on goods delivered.

According to Thanh Nam Group, there is no debt because the company has not received the number of goods delivered by Posco VST. Also, the two companies have yet to determine the actual amount of debt, hence the “continue to clarify the figures.”

According to the representative of Thanh Nam, the company expects a fair and equitable trial to solve the roots of the problem soon. The prolonged dispute not only affects the company’s business, but also its prestige and image in the market.

Thanh Nam said the VND58 billion debt is not based on any contract or specific invoice. In fact, the company has not received the agreed volume of goods from Posco VST. Even more, Posco VST cannot determine which contract and invoice the debt comes from.

The representative of Thanh Nam said, “Posco VST cannot submit the goods delivery receipt as requested by Thanh Nam. Where are the goods they delivered?”

Chairman cum general director fully divests La Vong Group

After the big real estate projects of La Vong Group came under investigation, Le Van Vong, group chairman and general director, has divested all of his holdings in the group.

La Vong Group JSC was established on August 2, 2003 with Le Van Vong as its legal representative.

The group has VND500 billion ($22 million) in charter capital, which came from three founders, including VND300 billion ($13.2 million) from Le Van Vong, and VND100 billion ($4.4 million) each from Le Van Hai and Dang Thi Nhu Trang.

However, according to nhadautu.vn, the group has just updated its business registration. Accordingly, Le Van Vong is no longer the legal representative of La Vong Group, and his responsibilities are taken over by general director Do Minh Dam.

Notably, all three founders divested entirely from La Vong Group as of January 18, 2018.

La Vong Group is known as the owner of numerous famous restaurants based on golden land plots in Hanoi, such as Lake View Coffee on the shore of Hoang Cau Lake, a series of restaurants at 2 Nguyen Thi Thap Street, and the World of La Vong Beer at 169 Hoang Ngan Street.

The group also owns sizeable land plots in Hanoi to develop real estate projects. La Vong Group established New House Trade JSC to develop New House projects on an area of 27.5ha in Quoc Oai, 10 ha in Xa La (Hadong district).

Additionally, it established Louis Invest., JSC covering offices for lease, premium apartments, and trade centres, and developing the 30.5ha Louis City Dai Mo project (in South Tu Liem district). Some of these golden land plots were assigned to La Vong Group without bidding for the BT (build-transfer) contract.

On June 7, the prime minister has ordered an inspection of all projects of La Vong Group and its subsidiaries. The order was made after it came to public attention that the group received numerous golden land plots under shady circumstances to implement real estate and transportation projects in the form of BT contracts. The land use rights of some of the land plots were not auctioned as prescribed by regulations.

Lazada to be inspected soon

Against the large number of customer complaint letters related to Lazada’s low-quality goods and services, the Vietnam Competition Authority will collaborate with the relevant agencies to inspect the company’s (Recess Co., Ltd.) business activities in the time to come.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has just issued several warnings that some multi-level companies offer very popular food products on the market with new forms of distribution. The warning calls attention to the risk that consumers may be cheated.

MoIT said that there are numerous fraudulent multi-level businesses that do not actually distribute anything. They remain only a network of sellers that get-by through continuous recruitment.

These companies usually deliver the wrong products, low-quality items or fake goods that are different from the advertisements on their websites. Sometimes they post fake prices or cancel a successful order without any explanation.

Their products have no labels and the companies cannot provide invoices, and food and functional food items are not preserved carefully to ensure quality.

Based on these telltale signs of a fraudulent company, Recess Co., Ltd., the owner of e-commerce website Lazada.vn, is one of the companies that received the most complaints. In 2017, Vietnam Competition Authority (VCA) received a large number of complaint letters related to the quality of products and services of Lazada.vn, as well as delays in delivery, goods being different from the advertisements, delivering used/old items or the wrong articles, repudiating liability, cancelling orders, fake promotions and wrong prices, selling goods that are not in the inventory, and abandoning customers. By the number of complaints, lazada.vn has made customers very angry this year.

VCA worked with Recess and asked the company to resolve the complaints and explain its business process. The firm has resolved the complaints satisfactorily since then. However, “related to a large number of customer complaint letters on problems in Lazada’s business, VCA will collaborate with the relevant agencies to conduct an inspection of this company in the short time to come,” confirmed MoIT.

There are many e-commerce websites that use the same methods as Lazada. Last month, several customers claimed that they bought a large batch of phone cards on FPT Group’s Sendo.vn e-commerce platform, but all of these cards had already been used, while Sendo’s communication manager stated that the company is only a link in the supply chain, thus it would be important to allocate responsibility to all parties involved.

As a result, MoIT recommended customers to buy at the companies’ official websites or authenticated stores, not on intermediary websites. Meanwhile, in early May 2018, Lazada announced closing its office in Hanoi to focus its resources in Ho Chi Minh City.

As more and more multi-level companies are cheating clients, MoIT recommended customers to protect themselves. Customers should choose reputable, licensed e-commerce websites or organisations that have clear contact on their websites for purchase. They should carefully review the terms and conditions of warranty, return, refund, and delivery on the websites before making a purchase. Consumers should also be wary of strange websites or social networking accounts that advertise big promotion or sell products and services at special low prices.

According to MoIT, multi-level companies having the largest number of participants are Stella Ivy Cosmetic Co., Ltd. (also known as Oriflame Vietnam) with 371,547 members, accounting for 52.53 per cent of multi-level business officers nationwide, Amway Vietnam (11.18 per cent), New Image Vietnam (10.12 per cent), Herbalife Vietnam (6.21 per cent), and Tiens Vietnam Co., Ltd. (4 per cent).

The total sales of multi-level businesses in 2017 hit VND8 trillion ($352.4 million), rising by VND330 billion ($14.5 million) over 2016. Herbalife Vietnam reported the highest revenue with more than VND2 trillion ($88 million), making up 25.62 per cent of the total. Three other companies had revenue exceeding VND1 trillion ($44 million), including Oriflame Vietnam, Amway Vietnam, and New Image Vietnam. The revenues of the remaining companies are under VND500 billion ($22 million).

The revenue of multi-level businesses mainly comes from functional food (71 per cent), cosmetics (23 per cent), and home appliances, fashion clothing, and equipment and other items (6 per cent).

Foreign shareholders nominated for Traphaco management board

Two foreign shareholders of Traphaco Joint Stock Company, Super Delta Pte., Ltd. and Magbi Fund Limited, want to add two Koreans to the board of directors of Traphaco.  

This is one of the questions put to shareholders at Traphaco’s 2018 extraordinary general shareholders’ meeting.

Notably, Super Delta nominated Kim Dong Hyu, who is the chief representative of Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.’s representative office in Vietnam, as a member of the management board.

Besides, Magbi Fund nominated Lee Choonghwan, who is the fund manager of Mirae Asset Capital cum director of Magbi Fund.

In November 2017, Magbi Fund and Super Delta became large shareholders of Traphaco after acquiring 16.63 million shares, equaling more than 40 per cent of its charter capital.

Notably, Daewong, through Super Delta, completed the purchase of 6.3 million Traphaco shares, equaling a 15 per cent stake. On the same day, Magbi Fund also bought nearly 10.4 million Traphaco shares, equivalent to 25.6 per cent of the charter capital.

Previously, Mekong Capital announced that its Vietnam Azalea Fund (VAF) divested its entire 24.99 per cent stake in Traphaco at VND141,500 dong ($6.23) per share for a total consideration of more than $64.5 million.

Thereby, 25 of the 40 per cent held by Magbi Fund and Super Delta came from VAF’s divestment.

In late-June, the Hanoi Department of Taxation issued a fine of nearly VND1 billion ($44,000) to Traphaco.

Due to the erroneous declaration of value-added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT), Traphaco was fined for 20 per cent of the difference between its declared and actual tax obligations, equalling VND159 million ($7,000), according to Article 1 of the Law on Amendments and Supplements of Articles of the Law on Tax Administration.

The company’s tax burden increased by VND795 million ($35,000) after the inspection, including VND715 million ($31,500) in CIT and VND80 million ($3,500) in VAT.

Traphaco also has to pay VND20 million ($880) in penalty for late payment (as of June 15, 2018). Traphaco has to calculate and pay the additional late payment fees applicable between June 16 and the time the company repays the state.

Tran Anh will delist from HNX due to Mobile World's neglect

More than one year after merging with Mobile World and being neglected to focus on the Bach Hoa Xanh grocery chain, Tran Anh Digital World JSC (code: TAG) has just announced the management board’s resolution to cancel its listing by buying back 180,634 TAG stocks.

Tran Anh will buy 180,634 TAG stocks, equaling 0.73 per cent of its total offered shares on the Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX) before delisting. Currently, Tran Anh holds 102,614 TAG stocks since its latest transaction on December 3, 2015, while its parent company Mobile World, as of April 18, owns 24.63 million shares, equaling 99.27 per cent of the chartered capital.

With the expected price of VND34,900 ($1.53) per stock, Tran Anh may spend VND6.3 billion ($277,533) buying back the stocks.

The transaction will be performed under the form of auction or contract within less than 30 days of receiving approval from the State Securities Commission (SSC).

Over one year after merging with Mobile World, Tran Anh’s business has shown unsatisfying, which can bee seen in the stock being put on alert on June 25 because of the corporation’s negative after-tax profit and the undistributed after-tax profit released in its financial report on March 31, 2018. This negative performance undermined interest in the stock, leading to little to no trading since late April.

As in the past two months the TAG stock saw no trading, Tran Anh's move of buying back its stocks before delisting may be aimed at acquiring the stocks at the best price before a foreseen downturn due to poor business results.

At the end of the transaction session on July 5, the TAG stock was priced at VND34,900 ($1.53).

Tran Anh’s financial report stated that in the 2017 fiscal year (April 1, 2017–March 31, 2018), its sales revenue reached VND3.53 trillion ($155.6 million), down nearly 14 per cent against 2016.

In addition, Tran Anh’s expenses to source goods occupied up to 88 per cent of its net revenue, leading to the gross profit of VND416.4 billion ($18.3 million), down more than 19 per cent on-year.

Mobile World’s decision to focus on developing the Bach Hoa Xanh chain is supposed to be the reason behind Tran Anh’s slow business.

At the Analyst Meeting on February 8 this year, Mobile World chairman Nguyen Duc Tai affirmed that the firm will target expanding the grocery chain with the investment of VND1.5-2 trillion ($66-88 million), and has no plans to develop Tran Anh or its pharmaceutical chain Phuc An Khang.

Food safety investment to boost agricultural exports

Investment in food safety can help Vietnam secure its $40 billion agriproduct export target in 2018, and with a project implemented to enhance food safety, higher export targets can be achieved in many years to come.

Over the next three years, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in partnership with New Zealand, will build awareness for increased food safety standards and deliver customised training programmes to about 1,000 smallholder farmers based on the basic level of GLOBAL G.A.P. requirements and other relevant standards.

This project will also provide a more intensive package of support to a maximum of 20 smallholder farmers, helping them acquire the GLOBALG.A.P. certification—an internationally recognised set of farm standards dedicated to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)—or equivalent standards. It will also find opportunities to connect the trained farmers with potential retailers and agribusiness firms who are looking for internationally-certified products.

“Improving food safety standards in order to access new markets is key to achieving Vietnam’s $40 billion agriproduct export target in 2018 and beyond,” said New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Wendy Mathews. “We are very pleased to support IFC’s efforts to connect smallholder farmers with growing domestic and international markets. Promoting better agribusiness practices and food safety standards will benefit Vietnam’s farmers, businesses, and consumers.”

“All levels, from the government to processors, need to work on the issue of food safety. This should be driven from the ground up rather than from the government down. There will be a cost for this, but if we want to be in the game, we have to spend that money,” said David Marks, poultry technical consultant for Dutch-backed feed company De Heus Vietnam.

Marks told VIR that for a company like De Hues or Bel Ga, considerable investment would need to be put into food safety to provide salmonella-free feed or salmonella-free chicken. “That requires considerable work on the farm and in the feed mill to improve security.”

According to Marks, there is generally a lack of understanding about food safety issues. “A lot of smallholders, and a lot of farmers generally, do not really know what salmonella is, and so education is needed.”

According to IFC, the annual food consumption in the domestic market accounts for roughly 15 per cent of the gross domestic product, with an average annual growth rate of approximately 18 per cent. However, inadequate safety standards can inhibit the sector’s growth potential, jeopardizing consumer health and reducing market opportunities for local food producers in the modern food value chain.

This project is a component of IFC’s broader Vietnam Food Safety Programme, which was launched in July 2017 in partnership with the Slovak Republic, aiming to address food safety standards and practices in the country. Within just a year, IFC helped40 poultry houses of two independent downstream poultry farms which source breeding chickens from Bel Ga JSC—a leading poultry breeding firm—to acquire the GLOBALG.A.P. certification.

In an interview with VIR, managing director of Bel Ga Southeast Asia Fred De Vis noted that GLOBALG.A.P. helps the firm persuade its business partners, including broiler farmers and slaughter houses, to set up an internationally accepted quality management system.

“If every partner in the supply chain is producing safe food, while at the same time protecting the environment as well as human and animal welfare, it will only be a matter of time before we can supply safe meat to all end consumers, and providing them a healthier and happier life,” said De Vis.

“GLOBALG.A.P. also brings us the opportunities to export hatching eggs from Vietnam to other countries, to become part of a poultry meat value chain that exports poultry meat outside Vietnam (even to Japan having the highest food safety standards in the world), to improve and consolidate our internal organization and make all company members aware of the necessary rules and procedures, to improve the reputation of the company and to strengthen the marketing strategy.”

By establishing a system for GLOBALG.A.P., which focuses on hygiene and biosecurity, antibiotic reduction, and traceability, among others, these two farms from Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai provinces have been able to supply about 3 million GLOBALG.A.P.-certified broilers, or 6 million kilogrammes of chicken meat, to the domestic market and also export them to Japan over the past year.

“Implementing internationally-accepted food safety practices and systems is essential for the sustainable growth of the Vietnamese agribusiness sector. This will improve competitiveness and help increase sales for farmers and food producers,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Lao PDR. “IFC’s work in Vietnam builds on our experience in other countries around the world, where we helped local players grow and create new and better opportunities.”

IFC has over 15 years of experience in providing food safety advisory services to agribusiness and retail clients globally. This work has helped 150 IFC clients from 30 countries attract $290 million in investment and generate over $230 million in new sales. Furthermore, clients benefit from improved efficiency and cost savings, which contribute to a stronger brand value.

SAP SE and HUST sign MoU on training cooperation

Germany-headquartered SAP SE, the market leader in enterprise application software, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hanoi University of Science and Technology on cooperation in the training of students in digital technology skills to help them adapt to automation and digitisation.

The cooperation will enable the university to approach SAP’s sustainable digital transformation so as to develop a sound technology platform in its training system, while approaching new Industry 4.0 technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning, as well as design thinking.

Students of the university (HUST), especially those majoring in IT, business administration, and ELITECH, will benefit from the MoU.

“HUST always promotes education and research activities and technology transfer in the Industry 4.0 era. This is compatible with SAP’s digital transformation approach and design thinking. The cooperation with SAP will help the university achieve the training of high-tech workforce for Vietnam,” said Hoang Minh Son, rector of HUST.

Scott Russell, president of SAP Asia-Pacific, expressed the company's long-term commitment to equip young people with necessary digital technology skills. "Human-beings are the key in the digital transformation process. Together with HUST, we committed to help Vietnam develop high-tech human resources to adapt to Industry 4.0."

The cooperation with HUST will help SAP expand its partner network in Vietnam.

HUST is a multidisciplinary technical university. It ranks first among the technology training universities in Vietnam.

Currently, the number of HUST students is more than 35,000. The university recruits around 6,000 students annually. It is cooperating with hundreds of research organisations and education institutes, as well as regional and international businesses and groups to develop research and train high-quality workforce.

Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, SAP provides enterprise application software and software-related services worldwide. SAP Vietnam was established in 2008. It has a staff of over 100 at its two offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Taisho inches towards domination at DHG

Taisho Group from Japan expressed interest in buying an additional 7.06 per cent (9.2 million shares) in Hau Giang Pharmaceutical JSC (DHG), as the next step in its plan to step-by-step acquire Vietnam’s biggest publicly-traded drug maker.

Taisho’s announcement came after DHG was approved to lift the foreign ownership limit to 100 per cent.

Taisho expects to pay VND120,000 ($5.21) per share, 20 per cent higher than the closing transaction price on July 4.

Thereby, the Japanese firm will have to spend VND1.104 trillion ($47.91 million) on the deal.

The transaction is expected to occur within 30-60 days the firm receives the approval from the State Securities Commission of Vietnam. After the deal, Taisho will increase its holding in DHG to 32 per cent.

At present, Taisho is the biggest foreign shareholder in DHG after it purchased 650,000 shares (0.5 per cent of the charter capital) to increase its holding to 32.606 million shares (24.95 per cent).

The runner-up is FTIF Templeton Frontier Markets Fund with 7.95 per cent. Meanwhile, State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC) is the biggest stakeholder with 43.3 per cent.

DHG’s step-by-step approach follows the script of Nawaplastic Industry Co., Ltd. and Binh Minh Plastic.

Nawaplastic Industry Co., Ltd. (Nawaplastic) completed the purchase of an additional 120,260 shares in Binh Minh Plastic (BMP) on June 26-July 2 to increase its holding to 54 per cent, equalling 44.21 million shares.

Former Eximbank Do Luong officer proposed for life imprisonment

The Procuracy has just proposed to sentence Nguyen Thi Lam, the mastermind behind the appropriation of VND50 billion ($2.2 million) in Eximbank’s Do Luong branch, to life imprisonment and the bank will have to repay clients’ lost money.

On July 5, the Nghe An People’s Court continues the first instance trial of Nguyen Thi Lam (31), former officer of Eximbank’s Do Luong branch in Vinh city, and 15 other defendants (also former officers of the bank), who were involved in the appropriation of VND50 billion ($2.2 million) from customers’ deposits.

At the court, the representative of the Procuracy proposed life imprisonment for Nguyen Thi Lam for the charge of “abusing trust to appropriate property.” She has to return the appropriated money to the bank, and Eximbank will have to repay all clients in full.

The Procuracy also proposed to seize the house of Nguyen Trung Hieu in Vinh city, to whom Lam claimed to have lent VND12 billion ($0.53 million), the amount she appropriated from customers.

Dang Dinh Hong (45), former director of Eximbank’s Do Luong branch, was proposed a sentence of 36-49 months of imprisonment for “deliberately acting against state regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.”

14 other defendants, all officers of Eximbank’s Do Luong and Vinh City branches, were proposed to receive suspended imprisonment or non-custodial reform, because they did not gain anything by aiding Lam in the crimes.

At the court hearing, Lam’s two lawyers said that the life sentence is too strict. Lam used the clients’ money for investment and business and she would repay them without intention of appropriating money. VND7 billion ($308,370) of the VND50 billion ($2.2 million) Lam claimed to transfer to a foreign investor who could not be identified. The lawyers proposed the court to return the documents for further investigation.

Earlier, between 2012 and 2016, as an officer of Eximbank’s Do Luong branch, Lam appropriated more than VND50 billion ($2.2 million) from various customers. She usually invited VIP guests to the bank to sign first and completed documents later. Using these signatures, Lam composed withdrawal orders herself and submitted completed documentation to the leaders.

As a result, six clients were swindled. Client Nguyen Tien N. had more than VND31.6 billion ($1.4 million) withdrawn from his savings books and VND855 million ($37,700) in cash from his accounts. Nguyen Thi Kieu H. lost VND10.7 billion ($471,400) from her savings books. Vo Thi H. was swindled out of VND5.9 billion ($260,000) in savings.

Up to date, Eximbank has issued around VND32 billion ($1.41 million) in compensation to these clients and is waiting for the conclusions of the court to identify whether the bank or defendant Lam has to repay customers.

Bình Phước farmers reel in big profits from citrus fruits

Fruit farmers in Bình Phước Province’s Bù Đốp District have struck it rich, especially those growing citrus like grapefruits and sweet mandarin, whose prices are high now.

Nguyễn Thanh Hùng, who has 100 green skin and pink flesh grapefruit trees in a 4,000sq.m orchard in Thanh Bình Town, said each tree yields an average of 70 fruits a year.

Since they fetch VNĐ40,000 per kilogramme, he hopes to earn around VNĐ300 million (US$13,200) this year, higher than other crops.

In 2014 he began to plant his grapefruit trees, and faced initial difficulties since he was not well-versed in growing them, he said.

“It is easy to grow grapefruit now since I have learnt farming techniques from farmers in other places and from agricultural experts.”

The declining prices and outputs of the province’s key crops like pepper, cashew and rubber in recent years have made many farmers in Bù Đốp, which is on the Cambodian border, switch to citrus fruits.

The south-eastern province is the country’s largest cashew producer and one of the largest pepper producers.

The Bù Đốp District Agriculture and Forestry Centre has taught local farmers how to grow citrus fruits.

Đỗ Hữu Đức, an official at the centre, said farmers who have switched to the fruits now have steady incomes.    

Lê Đình Sang in the district’s Tân Thành Commune said he earned VNĐ2 billion ($88,000) last year from his 1.8ha of king orange and sweet mandarin orchards, two or three times what he might have earned from rice or pepper.

He used to grow rice and vegetables on his 3.8ha farm until, in 2014, he turned 1.8ha into orchards.

This year he is growing king orange and sweet mandarin on another 4ha.

Farmers in Bù Đốp have joined hands to grow citrus fruits in large quantities and ensure they are of high quality.

Last year 18 farmers in the district’s Tân Tiến Commune set up a co-operative to grow green skin and pink flesh grapefruit on an area of 70ha to Vietnamese and global good agricultural practices (VietGAP and Global GAP) standards.

The co-operative is eyeing exports soon.

Nguyễn Văn Bắc, a member, said: “The demand for green skin and pink flesh grapefruit is huge in both the domestic and foreign markets.”

There is not enough fruit grown to VietGAP standards to meet export demand, he said.

Last year farmers in Bù Đốp switched from other crops to growing fruits on more than 100ha, according to the district Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.

Local authorities have encouraged farmers to turn low-yield rice fields and pepper farms into orchards. 

Bạc Liêu aims to attract 1.6 million tourists

The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bạc Liêu plans to attract 1.6 million tourists by the end of the year, including 41,000 international tourists.

Total revenue from the province’s tourism sector is expected to reach VNĐ1.3 trillion (US$56.4 million).

In the first six months of the year, the province’s tourism sector saw significant growth.

Tourism revenue was estimated at nearly VNĐ730 billion ($31.7 million), fulfilling 56.9 per cent of its target for the entire year and increasing by 10.45 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Cao Xuân Thu Vân, director of the province’s Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the department had worked with local authorities to ensure a clean and comfortable environment for tourists, as well as safety, security and order in tourism activities.

The province has implemented numerous activities to promote its tourism sector.

It has encouraged travel agencies and tourism-related companies to participate in the local tourism association, and promote their brands at exhibitions, festivals and international fairs.

In the coming time, the province’s tourism sector will draw up a detailed plan for development of tourism sites such as Tắc Sậy Church in Giá Rai Town, Lập Điền bird garden in Đông Hải District, and Phước Long stork garden in Phước Long District.

It is also asking the Mekong Delta Tourism Association for formal recognition of popular destinations such as a wind power site and Hưng Thiện Pagoda.

In addition, it plans to spend more to improve traffic infrastructure and the quality of services at tourism sites and areas.

The province is calling for investment for the Nhà Mát coastal tourism area in Bạc Liêu City, Tắc Sậy tourism area in Giá Rai Town, a coastal eco-tourism area linking visits with the Bạc Liêu Wind-Power Plant, and express boat services on the Bạc Liêu City - Hòn Trứng Island - Côn Đảo Islands route. — VNS

Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu invests in high-quality tourism

Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province plans to pour more investment in high-quality tourism projects in an effort to increase the length of tourists’stays, according to Nguyễn Hữu Thọ, chairman of Việt Nam Tourism Association.

The southern province will focus on building seaside resorts and developing ecological and spiritual tourism along with MICE events (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), Nguyễn Hồng Lĩnh, secretary of the province’s Party’s Committee, said at a conference in Vũng Tàu on Thursday.

The number of visitors has risen nearly 13 per cent year-on-year, while tourism revenue also rose 15.9 per cent. But many visitors from HCM City and neighboring provinces such as Bình Dương and Đồng Nai stay only for a day or half-day, according to Lĩnh.

To attract more long-term visitors, the province wants to develop world-class sites on Côn Đảo islands and at Bình Châu Hot Springs.

Resorts and amusement parks, to be built on coastal areas of around 1,600 hectares, are expected to attract both MICE and holiday tourists.

The 1,100-ha Long Hải-Phước Hải complex and its adjacent areas will accommodate high-end resorts, water and mountain sports, and traditional craft villages, while the 3,000-ha Bà Rịa-Núi Dinh complex will be earmarked for community and hi-tech agricultural tourism.

At the Hồ Tràm-Bình Châu complex, which is 6,000 ha wide, seaside resorts, ecotourism services, high-end amusement parks and medical tourism services will be provided. A 600-hectare safari park has also been planned for this complex.

Meanwhile, high-end water tourism, ecotourism and historical tourism services will be offered at the 1,000-ha Côn Đảo Island complex.

The province has completed a coastal road from Vũng Tàu City to Xuyên Mộc District, forming a unique beach tourism route with luxury hotels and resorts along the coast.

But there are still many sites where investors could develop high-end tourism projects.

Located in the southern key economic zone and 100km from HCM City, Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu boasts many strengths and a robust maritime economy, including ports, oil and gas exploration, and seafood exploitation and processing.

Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province attracted 2,79 million visitors last year, including 363,000 foreigners.

Electrical tech expos open in HCM City     

The 11th International Exhibition of Electrical Technology and Equipment (Vietnam ETE) and the 8th International Exhibition of Products, Technologies for Energy Saving and Green Power (Enertec Expo) opened today in HCM City.

They feature 300 booths set up by 200 exhibitors, including leading enterprises such as the HCM City Power Corporation, the Vietnam Electrical Equipment JSC, ABB, Panasonic, Hitachi, Long Giang Electrical Equipment, Cong Luan Mechanical and Electrical JSC, APS Mechanical and Electrical JSC, and others.

Businesses in the field of green energy such as Dien Quang, Rang Dong, Redsun, VES, and GEE are also taking part.

In addition, many other enterprises from 10 countries and territories: Germany, France, the US, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand are also showcasing their products at the expos.

On the sidelines will be a seminar on national technical regulations for energy-saving construction projects which will discuss public management of such projects.

The exhibitions have a networking area where nearly 50 foreign firms will seek business partners in Viet Nam.

Fact-finding tours to leading local companies in HCM City and neighbouring areas will be organised to help investors and businesses gain an insight into their production capacity and operations to explore co-operation.

Organised by the HCM City Centre for Supporting Industries Development and C.I.S Vietnam Advertising and Exhibition Joint Stock Company, the exhibitions, on at the Sai Gon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7, will go on until July 21. 

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