BUSINESS NEWS IN BRIEF 8/10

UK-VN Business Forum to take place in London     

More than 150 government officials and business leaders from the UK and Viet Nam will gather at the UK-Viet Nam Business Forum held in London on October 9.

The UK-ASEAN Business Council, along with the Vietnamese Embassy in London, will host the forum to celebrate the 45th anniversary of UK-Viet Nam diplomatic relations.

The Forum will feature a keynote address by Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh and bring together over 150 government officials and business leaders from the UK and Viet Nam to discuss Viet Nam’s future economic outlook and opportunities for UK businesses.

This event will be an excellent opportunity to find out more about this dynamic market in Southeast Asia, network with government officials and business leaders and hear first-hand from British success stories in Viet Nam.

According to the Asian Development Bank, Viet Nam is one of the fastest growing economies in the world with an expected growth rate of 7.1 per cent in 2018. Currently, 70 per cent of the population is under 35 years of age and by 2050, Viet Nam’s population is expected to reach 120 million.

As a member of ASEAN, APEC and the CPTPP, Viet Nam is increasingly integrating itself into the global economy through free trade agreements and business-friendly policy reforms. With an increasingly educated workforce and a growing middle class, Viet Nam has positioned itself to be a significant part of the global supply chain and a vibrant economic hub to do business with Southeast Asia. 

Workshop to spotlight IBM asset management software solution

A workshop on IBM Maximo, an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software solution, will take place at Saigon Prince Hotel, 63 Nguyen Hue Street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City on October 12.

The workshop, namely “IBM Maximo solution for asset management and maintenance – Removing all challenges in manufacturing,” will be co-held by Avenue JSC and leading IT firm IBM to give manufacturers a comprehensive insight into today’s challenges in EAM and how to come up with best solution for these problems.

IBM Maximo EAM is a solution that enables organisations to manage the lifecycle and optimize the efficiency of their physical assets (buildings, equipment, vehicles, machinery, ect.) with better planning of maintenance, inventory management, procurement and others.

It has been repeatedly rated as a market leading solution by Gartner, offering a host of benefits:

-      Reduce unplanned downtime by 5 – 20 percent

-      Minimize the risk of breakdown

-      Optimize the human resources by 10 – 20 percent

-      Increase the asset stability by 3 – 5 percent

-      Reduce inventory costs by 20 – 30 percent

-      Improve budget plan

-      Minimize risk and enhance safety in manufacturing

-      Satisfy international standards in manufacturing

-      Extend the life of assets

-      Automated system

Avenue is a premier partner of IBM and the only in Vietnam to achieve Gold Level of IBM Tivoli Deployment Accreditation (AAA). For over 15 years, Avenue has provided Maximo EAM solution for factories in Vietnam and overseas. More than 100 projects have been successfully completed in leading firms in manufacturing, food and beverage, oil and gas, chemicals, power, ports and airport industries. 
Muong Thanh spreads wings in Laos

Over the course of 25 years of establishment and development, Muong Thanh Group has extended its wings over 40 cities and provinces across Vietnam and now has taken to the skies with its first expansion into Laos.

In total, Muong Thanh Group has 60 three-to-five-star hotels offering nearly 12,000 rooms, making it the hotel chain with the largest number of rooms in Vietnam, as well as earning it the recognition as “the biggest private hotel chain in Indochina.” Additionally, the hotel group was the only Vietnamese brand nominated for the “Asia’s Leading Hotel Brand 2018” title at the World Travel Awards.

Muong Thanh Group is building on the treasured values and traditional culture of Vietnam with the ambition of becoming the global representative of the Vietnamese hospitality industry. The hotel chain presents customers with interesting experiences thanks to stylish design and modern facilities in a distinct Vietnamese cultural wrapping and international-standard services.

Introduced for the first time in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien in 1997, over the past few years, the Muong Thanh hotel brand has caught the attention of numerous domestic and international tourists with its significant growth. Each Muong Thanh hotel inherits the exceptional delicacy and elegance of the surrounding local culture. The brand weaves cultural heritage and the unique mountain landscapes of Northwest Vietnam into a seamless offering complemented by the friendly, warm hospitality of Vietnamese people.

Changing its brand identity for the first time after more than two decades in 2012, Muong Thanh Group has been growing towards its newest brand identity, “Vietnamese identity – Muong Thanh’s identity” to guide visitors to get in touch with the millennia-old, unique Vietnamese identity.

Inspired by brocade motifs, Muong Thanh’s new identity is modern and full of character, offering services tailored to the needs and desires of four distinct customer segments.

As the most luxurious segment of Muong Thanh Group, Muong Thanh Luxury’s logo uses yellow and purple, expressing elegance, luxury, and sincerity.

Muong Thanh Grand offers high-end hotels in big cities for a getaway from modern life. Inspired by lightning and brocade motifs and zigzag graphics to symbolise energy, momentum, and success. The dominant colour is blue, combined with yellow, offering a relaxing yet energetic environment, which is also reflected in the architecture, graphics, and interior.

Muong Thanh Holiday hotels are located in the top tourist destinations in Vietnam and were built with a peaceful and open style. The circle and the emerald green were chosen to convey a sense of close personal touch, promising colourful experiences for visitors.

Inspired by the image of the dancing girl in brocade motifs combined with the green of the northwest mountains, Muong Thanh Hotel’s three-to-four-star establishments offer reasonable prices and a cosy ambiance, promising holiday-goers a home in a faraway land.

Following its successes in the Vietnamese tourism market, Muong Thanh Luxury Vientiane, famed as one of the tallest buildings in Laos to date, was built according to modern five-star standards, but still highlights the unique culture of the “Land of a Million Elephants.” The hotel also won the MICE ASEAN Venue Standard prize in early 2018, along with Muong Thanh Luxury Can Tho in Vietnam.

With a distinguished direction and strategy, Muong Thanh Hotel Group is gradually asserting its position in the domestic hotel market, but is also extending its influence to other countries in the region and the world, contributing to the development of the Vietnamese tourism sector.


Amazon assists Vietnamese online sellers through new localised website


Powering digital solutions for the cement industry, Amazon assists Vietnamese online sellers through new localised website, Muong Thanh spreads wings in Laos, Hoa Sen drops out of real estate over poor results

US internet giant Amazon has rolled out new initiatives to facilitate cross-border activities among Vietnamese sellers and exporters.

Specifically, Amazon’s global selling division has recently launched a localised website and an official Facebook fan page in Vietnamese language for online retailers in Vietnam. This is part of Amazon’s efforts to aid Vietnamese retailers to expand their business and access international customers via its e-commerce platform.

Amazon Global Selling has joined forces with the Vietnam Ecommerce Association (VECOM) to organise the first conference for Vietnamese sellers. Titled “Selling Globally on Amazon,” the conference has attracted 1,000 ecommerce operators and sellers who wish to join the Amazon platform.

Joonmo Park, head of Amazon Global Selling in the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asia, said that the language barrier is one of the biggest challenges for Vietnamese sellers and exporters when it comes to cross-border e-commerce business. Therefore, these initiatives will help remove language barriers to support local individuals and small-scale firms to join the Amazon platform.

He further noted that cross-border e-commerce is a big trend in the world with an annual growth rate of 20-30 per cent. Amazon has more than 300 million active customer accounts, including 100 million Prime members. Therefore, Vietnamese sellers on Amazon will have the opportunity to approach a huge customer database spanning 180 countries and territories.

Furthermore, there is an increasing number of Vietnamese online sellers trading on the Amazon Global Selling website, including manufacturers, brand owners, and retailers. Amazon’s new solutions would encourage more Vietnamese sellers to add their locally made products to the platform as well as increase their export value.

Nguyen Ky Minh, director of EcomViet, under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, cited data from a foreign market research firm saying that Southeast Asia’s ecommerce industry posted a revenue of some $5.5 billion since 2015 and is projected to reach an estimated $88 billion by 2025. The growth of e-commerce will likely surpass other sectors like online travel agencies or ride-hailing services, presenting enormous opportunities for online retailers.


Hoa Sen drops out of real estate over poor results

Maybe due to poor business, Le Phuoc Vu, chairman of local steel giant Hoa Sen Group, has just announced to dissolve its trillion-VND tourism project in the northern province of Yen Bai.

Vu announced dissolving subsidiary Hoa Sen Van Hoi JSC, the developer of the Van Hoi Lake eco-tourism project in the province’s Tran Yen District due to the firm’s and the Yen Bai Department of 

Investment and Planning’s decision to halt the project.

According to the plan, Van Hoi eco-tourism project is forecast to be constructed on a 1,346-hectare site, including a 10ha resort, 35ha eco-park, 77ha high-end urban and villa areas, and a VND1.2 trillion 

($53 million) shopping mall and Hoa Sen Yen Bai Hotel. This is also the local steel giant’s first trillion-VND real estate, tourism, and service project.

Hoa Sen Van Hoi was established in 2016 with 70 per cent of charter capital from its parent company Hoa Sen Group.

In addition to Van Hoi, the steel king intended to establish three more subsidiaries specialised in resort and tourism property.

Vu previously affirmed that he was confident about entering the real estate segment, but Hoa Sen Van Hoi’s dissolution shows that the corporation hit a snag in the segment.

Previously, Hoa Sen also divested all of its capital from three other real estate projects and the Hoa Sen-Gemadept International Seaport logistics project.

However, Hoa Sen is also facing troubles in its main segment, steel, where it has been reporting concerning growing financial imbalance. At present, the once iconic steel firm has to deal with huge debts, 

which account for 78 per cent of its chater capital.

According to its financial report in the 2017-2018 fiscal year’s third quarter, Hoa Sen’s debt stand at nearly VND18.4 billion ($814.1 million), including VND15.88 trillion ($702.65 million) from financial lending. 

The firm needs to pay hundreds of billions of VND for interest payments annually, which signifies a sizeable chunk of its profit.

Powering digital solutions for the cement industry

Alongside the requirements for high quality, the construction industry cannot avoid the issues of energy efficiency and eco-balance, and ABB’s digital solutions in these areas are expected to push the Vietnamese cement industry to the next level.

Tan Thang Cement Plant, scheduled to be commissioned in late 2019 in the central province of Nghe An, will be the first digital cement plant to integrate the most advanced Industry 4.0 technologies following the announcement that ABB won an order to provide the plant with additional integrated digital automation and electrical equipment.

The investors in the Tan Thang project are focused on incorporating the latest Industry 4.0 technology into the new plant. ABB Ability, ABB’s cross-industry digital offering, will help to provide integration of all plant systems.

“We aim to have the most modern cement plant, equipped with the latest digital technology, that will help us to achieve our production and efficiency goals,” said Hoang Anh Tuan, general director of Tan Thang Cement Plant. “ABB is helping us to build a strong digital foundation for the systems at our plant, to help us succeed from our first day of production.”

The follow-up order includes a 110 kilovolt air-insulated substation, with a supervisory control and data acquisition system based on the ABB Ability System 800xA for power control, as well as telecommunications, and high-voltage primary and secondary equipment to support the electrical infrastructure. ABB will also deliver power transformers, distribution transformers, an intelligent motor control centre, auxiliary control centre, emergency diesel generator, DC power supply, various field devices, and related commissioning services. ABB’s initial delivery included the ABB Ability System 800xA distributed control system to integrate control, electrical, and communication systems for optimal visibility into all processes for stable production and efficient use of raw materials and energy. It also included ABB Ability knowledge manager and expert optimiser software, as well as basic communication and electrical system infrastructure and equipment.

Cement into 4.0 is an example of the sector’s ability and determination to undertake a paradigm shift which, beyond transformations in production processes, services, and products generated for customers and society, also includes business model development, new forms of customer relations, and value creation for customers, as well as the fields of staff training and capacity-building.

This transformation in the cement industry is driven by mass data processing, real-time connectivity, on-demand custom production, and a framework for smart plants.

Cement into 4.0 has its sights set on optimising the use of raw materials and energy while enhancing information flows with higher efficiency so as to generate solutions for construction that meet the demands of 21st-century society, with high performance and greater added value in technical features and environmental contributions.

The Vietnamese cement industry is striving to be competitive and sustainable so as to generate the high-quality and efficient construction materials needed by the country, and to continue creating stable and highly qualified employment.

Vietnam’s cement and clinker sales volume reached 80.3 million tonnes in 2017, posting an increasing growth rate for three years in a row. According to the StoxPlus database, there are 107 cement facilities in Vietnam belonging to 93 companies, with the total annual capacity of 120.9 million tonnes. Vietnam Cement Industry Corporation has reported utilisation of this capacity at over 80 per cent.

ABB has supplied its state-of-the-art control and optimisation systems to many major cement projects. The scope of supply also includes low- and medium-voltage distribution, transformers and power cables, power factor correction, emergency diesel generator and UPS systems, motors and drives, instrumentation, control and signal cables, infrastructure, telephone, fire and alarm systems, and process and plant TV supervision systems, as well as support in engineering, installation, and project management.


Masan Group and SK Group complete strategic partnership deal

Masan Group Corporation (HSX: MSN) today announced the completion of SK Group’s (SK Group) purchase of 109,899,932 treasury shares at VND100,000 ($4.4) per share, a total consideration of approximately $470 million. SK Group is now the largest foreign shareholder of Masan Group.

Masan Group signed a strategic partnership agreement with SK Group on September 19. The agreement will enable the two parties to draw on each other’s strengths to accelerate Masan’s and SK’s respective growth strategies. The corporate groups aim to jointly pursue transformational business opportunities in Vietnam and to synergise existing business units.

SK Group is one of the largest corporate groups in South Korea, with business across energy, chemicals, telecommunications, semiconductors, logistics, and services. SK Group operates globally across more than 40 countries and had a combined revenue of $141 billion as of the end of 2017.

SK’s investment of approximately $470 million will entirely comprise of new capital and SK will own 9.5 per cent of Masan Group. The company plans to utilise the proceeds to fund its future growth initiatives, as well as to strengthen its balance sheet.

With a strong balance sheet, Masan will add up to $50 million of net earnings per annum for the full year of 2019, while gross debt to EBITDA is expected to decrease to 2.5x by the end of 2018. Management expects core net after-tax profit to jump by at least 50 per cent in the fiscal year of 2018 and forecast similar base case earnings growth momentum for the 2019 fiscal year as each of its core business continues to deliver on its growth plans.

Masan plans to consolidate cash at the group level by up-streaming free cash flows from its subsidiaries to build a strategic investment war chest and/or return capital to shareholders. MSN does not intend to issue additional shares to investors over the next three years.

Coworking-space companies form alliance to support startups

Five coworking-space companies in the central localities of Danang, Hue and Quang Nam on October 1 clinched an agreement to form a coworking-space alliance in central Vietnam to support the regional enterprise community, particularly startups.

The alliance was founded on the occasion of the grand opening of SURF SPACE, the second coworking space of Danang Enterprise Support (DNES), also known as Danang Incubator, at No.35 Thai Phien Street in Danang’s Hai Chau District, to meet the rising demand for working space for startups in Danang and to connect with the international startup communities of Hanoi and HCM City.

The first five cofounders of the alliance---SURF SPACE, IoT Space, Enouvo in Danang, CoPLUS Working Space in Hue and Hub Hoi An Coworking in Quang Nam---will team up to run marketing campaigns, share coworking-space services and build an online platform to create favorable conditions for the enterprise community, including startups, to run their businesses.

Pham Duc Nam Trung, chief executive officer at DNES, pointed out that the alliance is expected to exploit the great potential of coworking spaces needed by Danang-based startups in particular and the central region as a whole.

The central coastal city now has 12 coworking spaces, doubling that of 2016, but has failed to meet the current demand, Trung remarked.

SURF SPACE, from now until next month, offers free courses that share knowledge and establish a connection for the enterprise community in Danang, under a program called “Vietnam Digital 4.0.” The program, which is an innovation of Google, was organized by Google in partnership with DNES, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Vietnam Women Entrepreneur's Council and other organizations.

Vietnam Digital 4.0 will provide digital and soft skills from beginner to advanced levels for local startups and small and super-small-sized enterprises, helping them to enhance their management and business development capacity and online business efficiency, as well as offering more job opportunities to the society.

Hà Nội leads FDI attraction in first nine months

Hà Nội lured nearly US$6.27 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first nine months of 2018, up 5.4 times over the same period last year and exceeding the yearly target by 64 per cent.

Hà Nội has led the nation in terms of FDI attraction this year. Of the total, $5.17 billion was poured into 417 new projects, while $661 million was added to 116 existing projects and about $431 million was contributed by 543 foreign investors to domestic firms.

At the same time, 70 non-budget invested projects were implemented with combined capital of VNĐ163 trillion (US$7 billion), while 41 others received an additional VNĐ86 trillion.

Feasibility reports from four public-private partnership projects were approved with total investment of VNĐ14.42 trillion, while the city also issued investment licences to four new projects worth VNĐ13.94 trillion.

According to director of the Department of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Mạnh Quyền, Hà Nội’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) per capita in the first nine months of 2018 recorded 7.17 per cent growth.

The city’s export turnover grew sharply to an estimated $10.51 billion from January to September, a year-on-year increase of 21.6 per cent.

The tourism industry also achieved impressive results with 19.7 million visitors, up 9.2 per cent year-on-year, including 4.3 million international visitors, up 20 per cent.

Agricultural production in the first nine months performed well. The price of agricultural products remained stable in the first half of the year and slightly increased in the third quarter, which facilitated production and business, Quyền added.

During the reviewed period, the capital created jobs for 151,000 workers, up 18.8 per cent over the same period last year.

However, the authorities also pointed out some shortcomings, such as traffic congestion and flooding. The progress of wastewater treatment plants in industrial clusters remained slow, and the rate of disbursement for development had failed to meet targets. 

Tien Giang works towards 2.65 billion USD in export this year

Tien Giang is accelerating efforts to fulfil the year’s target of 2.65 billion USD in export value, after earning 1.99 billion USD in the January-September period, up 8.4 percent year on year and meeting 75.1 percent of the year’s goal. 

Industrial products are the biggest currency earners, led by garment with 380.7 million USD, an increase of 10.4 percent, followed by shoes with 367.7 million USD. 

Among agricultural products, processed aquatic products brought home 70 percent of total export revenues, followed by rice and processed fruits and vegetable.  

American countries continued to be the largest market for Tien Giang’s products, accounting for 41.4 percent of the province’s total export revenues, followed by the Asian market with 37.3 percent, and Europe with 19.2 percent. 

Exports to the Asian market saw the highest annual growth in the period with 9.9 percent, while earnings from American market increased by 6.7 percent and that from Europe, 6.2 percent. 

According to Doan Van Phuong, Director of the provincial Department of Industry and Trade, local exports managed to keep a stable growth thanks to authorities’ measures to remove difficulties for production and business, and diversify export markets. 

The province will apply incentives to encourage local enterprises to modernize their production technology and machine, thus enhancing their productivity and product quality and competitiveness. 

Vietnam Medi-pharm Expo returns to Hanoi in December 6 – 8

The International Medical, Hospital and Pharmaceutical Exposition (Vietnam Medi-pharm Expo) will return to Hanoi on its 25th edition from December 6 – 8.

The expo will take place at the Hanoi International Centre for Exhibition (ICE) in the downtown of the capital city, featuring more than 280 booths run by 200 enterprises from 18 countries and territories.

It will be held by the Vietnam National Trade Fair and Advertising Company (Vinexad) in partnership with the Vietnam Pharmaceutical Companies Association (VNPCA).

On display will be laboratory and analysis equipment; medical equipment, instruments, machines and materials used in hospitals; medicines, food supplements, raw drug materials and pharmaceutical processing and packaging machines; and advanced technology and solutions in ophthalmology and dental practice.

According to Vinexad CEO Nguyen Khac Luan, this year the Busan Economic Promotion Agency from the RoK will introduce to health workers, medical service providers and businesses in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors in Vietnam the latest health care service model, proven to be effective in the RoK, alongside a variety of new medical products and equipment. 

They will be displayed at a 500-sqm pavilion exclusively designed for the Busan Economic Promotion Agency, gathering over 50 Korean businesses. About 5,000 visitors are expected to come to the pavilion during the 3-day event.

Qatar’s pavilion will be another highlight of the event as the country will exhibit its best beauty products and services.

Last year, the Vietnam Medi-pharm Expo brought together 158 exhibitors from across the world with 200 booths, of which 82 run by domestic firms. It attracted more than 11,200 visitors, including around 8,500 trade visitors. 

Can Tho expected to meet all 13 set targets for 2018

The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho is expected to fulfil all 13 of its set targets this year, said Director of the municipal Department of Planning and Investment Nguyen Van Hong at a municipal Party Committee meeting on October 1. 

More specifically, eight out of 13 goals will just be met, including the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) up 7.5 percent and the average GRDP per capita hitting 80.48 million VND (3,490 USD). 

Total investment in the locality will hit 56.1 trillion VND (2.43 billion USD), the proportion of skilled workers will reach 72 percent, and the rate of poor households will be reduced to 1.55 percent. Health insurance will cover 82.5 percent of the population, while 91 percent of solid waste in urban areas will be collected. 

The remaining targets will be surpassed, including revenue of exported goods and services hitting 1.847 billion USD, up 3.2 percent from the plan. The State budget collection will surpass the plan by 1.04 percent to 11.191 trillion VND, while an additional six communes will be recognised as new-style rural areas. The rate of households accessing clean water will reach 84.7 percent, 0.2 percent higher than the target. 

In the first nine months of this year, the city’s industrial production rose by 8.05 percent year-on-year, tourism activity increased by 10.7 percent in terms of arrivals and 17 percent in revenue, and exports and services went up 14.7 percent. 

Several important targets were yet to be me in the period, including disbursement for infrastructure construction, State budget collection from foreign-invested firms, and industry-trade-services from non-State sector, as well as slow planning in five districts. 

Hong said the city is devising a socio-economic development and budget allocation plan for 2019 and plans to hire foreign consultants for the work.

He asked the city to accelerate the disbursement of public capital, and State budget collection revenue for the State budget from foreign-invested firms and non-State industry-trade-services; gear capital towards agriculture, rural areas, export, support industry, small and medium-sized enterprises, high technology, and startups, all towards creating more favourable conditions for businesses. 

550 firms to showcase products at Vietfood & Beverage – ProPack 2018

As many as 550 businesses will showcase their 3,000 latest products at the Vietfood & Beverage and Professional Packing Machines 2018 (Vietfood & Beverage – ProPack 2018), slated for November 7-10 in Hanoi.

The exhibition will feature 600 booths, including those from India, Poland, Taiwan (China), the Republic of Korea, Thailand, China.

Vietnam will bring interesting experiences to visitors, according to the organising board.

In the beverage category, big names such as Sabeco, Habeco, Sagota, Cocacola, Heniken, Tan Hiep Phat and URC Vietnam will introduce many of their new products to consumers and visitors, proving the attractiveness of the continuously growing domestic beverage market.

Meanwhile, the food category will see the presence of 20 strong brands and 30 organic products from prestigious producers.

According to Dinh Thi My Loan, Chairwoman of the Association of Vietnam Retailers, consumers are now ready to pay 20-25 percent higher for organic products. This shows an increasing demand for clean products to improve the life quality.

The exhibition will offer an opportunity for businesses to shake hands to create a clean farm produce chain in order to gain easier access to major retailers namely BigC, Hapro, Fivimart and Aeon Mall, said she.

The annual event creates a trade playground that greatly benefits the trademark promotion, said Nguyen Khac Luan, General Director of the Vietnam National Trade Fair & Advertising Company (Vinexad).

Through the exhibition, businesses will expand cooperation opportunities and directly access the public, he added.

Vinh Long striving to become best place to invest

Over the past years, the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long has ramped up efforts to court foreign direct investment capital flow to serve its development needs. Truong Dang Vinh Phuc, director of the Vinh Long Department of Planning and Investment, describes the province’s recent efforts to turn Vinh Long into a place to invest, capitalising on its inner strength.

In 2003, Vinh Long formed the Trade and Investment Promotion Centre, which has been now split into the Centre for Investment Promotion and Business Support under the Vinh Long Department of Planning and Investment and the Trade Promotion Centre under the Vinh Long Department of Industry and Trade, to take the initiative in investment promotion activities.

The province has also been proactive in setting up investment wish lists in each development period to attract investment. It has also joined hands with relevant, authorised management agencies to partake in investment promotion events abroad.

As of the end of September, Vinh Long was home to 43 ongoing foreign-invested projects worth $476.6 million in total committed capital, of which disbursed capital amounted to $235.3 million, equal to 49.3 per cent.

Foreign-invested projects came from across the globe. Taiwan has topped the list in committed capital volumes with nearly $213 million in seven projects, the Netherlands ranking second with three projects valued at more than $74 million, and South Korea the third with eight projects worth nearly $59 million.

As part of the Vinh Long investment Promotion Conference event held in March, scores of foreign investors from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and Taiwan showed keen interest in investment and business opportunities in the province across various fields such as agriculture, industry, urban development, and services.

Some investment projects are about to complete investment procedures and become ready for deployment, such as a project on vegetable and fruit processing for export by Japanese investor Hatchando, one on apparel production by Malaysia’s Boker, and a project on footwear production for export by Ty Bach Ltd., a member company of Taiwanese footwear group Lai Yih Footwear.

Foreign-invested enterprises have made significant contributions to boosting the province’s industrial production and export value, creating jobs for local labourers, and supplementing the provincial budget.

The foreign direct investment capital volumes, however, remain modest and do not match the province’s actual advantages and potential.

To tackle the situation and help the province court investors, Vinh Long has focused on improving the quality of planning, laying firm groundwork for investors and businesses to deploy projects in the province without a hitch.

Efforts have been made towards facilitating the implementation of major projects with high spill-over effects on provincial development.

Vinh Long is calling on investment into the local industrial zones (IZs) and concentrating resources on developing new IZs and industrial clusters to boost the cleared land bank ready to serve the growing investor needs.

Developing distinct culture and tourism projects to attract visitors, and embarking on projects aimed at restructuring the sectors of agriculture, industry, and trade to create a driving force to propel the province’s growth are also deemed priority tasks.

In addition to effectively implementing state policies and mechanisms to stimulate the private sector as well as small and medium-sized enterprises’ development, Vinh Long has outlined a raft of its own programmes and projects with similar targets such as a programme on startup promotion linked to business development or a project on streamlining agricultural produce and seafood consumption systems linked to agricultural restructuring, to name but a few.

Efforts were also made to ensure constant improvements of annual assessment results related to administrative procedure reform and provincial competitiveness indexes, paired with effective implementation of various government resolutions and maintaining regular dialogues with businesses to help them clear obstacles in a timely manner.

Vinh Long is set to put its public administration centre into operation in the first quarter of next year, in parallel to the deployment of a set of indexes on provincial competitiveness assessment at grassroots level across the province, paving the way to reach its ambitious e-government target.


Can Tho a major investment magnet

With constant infrastructure upgrades and a strong commitment from the leadership to ameliorate the local investment climate, the city of Can Tho in the Mekong Delta has emerged as one of the investment hotspots in the country.

Due to this newfound status, Can Tho has also been named among the localities pioneering the attraction of new foreign direct investment.

Shortly after the Law on Foreign Investment came into force, in 1988 the former province of Hau Giang licensed a project on founding Meko joint venture, which consisted of a string of factories to operate in diverse fields of apparel production, food and agricultural item processing, and animal feed production. After this initially encouraging development, the FDI flow into Can Tho saw a halt over several successive years due to a combination of factors, with the main cause being the limitations related to transport infrastructure in Can Tho in particular and the Mekong Delta region in general.

Aware of this bottleneck, the government has focused investment into upgrading and expanding technical infrastructure system in the Mekong Delta in recent years.

Investment was put into executing a raft of projects of national significance in Can Tho, such as Can Tho International Airport, Can Tho Bridge, Cai Cui Port, South Song Hau Road, and the O Mon thermal power centre.

The constantly improving technical infrastructure network ensuring convenient road and waterway transport, paired with the presence of seaports and an international airport as well as more highly developed logistics services, has enabled Can Tho to grow into one of the major import-export hubs in the country, with convenient connections to other localities in the region and the country.

This has provided the catalyst to turn Can Tho into a major economic centre in the Mekong Delta, while also providing enormous opportunities for the city to woo investment.

A watershed in FDI attraction to Can Tho was marked in 2016, when the city licensed a sizable foreign-invested project registered to invest in Hung Phu Industrial Zone (IZ).

The project involved construction and development of IZ infrastructure and the construction of a sports shoes production factory for South Korea’s Tae Kwang Industrial Co., Ltd. at Hung Phu 2B IZ in Cai Rang district.

It covers 62 hectares of space in the IZ, 52ha of which are earmarked for building the shoe factory and the remaining area for associated service facilities including warehouses for rent, with total investment capital reaching $171.4 million. Many of local and foreign investors have come to Can Tho in search of co-operation and investment opportunities across the board. Projects valued at several billion dollars have received investment certificates in the city.

As part of Can Tho’s investment promotion conference, which took place in August 2018, 10 projects valued at VND8 trillion ($354 million) received investment certificates and investment approval. In addition, the Can Tho People’s Committee and investors signed co-operative agreements for 19 projects capitalised at nearly VND85 trillion ($3.76 billion).

Can Tho’s appeal to investors will be ramped up in the near future after Trung Luong-My Thuan-Can Tho Expressway is opened to traffic. After the expressway is put into use, travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho will be cut down by half, from the current three hours to 90 minutes. The project to build an express train route from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho, which is set to cross Ho Chi Minh City, Long An, Tien Giang, Vinh Long, and Can Tho, at the cost of $5 billion, is now in the legal setup phase.

PHI Group signs MoU with Saigon Pho Palace

The PHI Group, a diversified US holding company focused on mergers and acquisitions and investments in natural resources, energy, agriculture and special situations, has announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Comprehensive Cooperation with the Saigon Pho Palace JSC over real estate development and other business activities in Vietnam.

The PHI Group will continue to negotiate with SGP Palace and sign definitive agreements to further cooperate as follows: PHI will assist SGP Palace to go public in the US and/or international stock markets; PHI will engage SGP Palace to manage and carry out its construction projects in Vietnam, including but not limited to the contemplated Asia Diamond Exchange in the Free-Trade Section of the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone in central Quang Nam province; PHI and SGP Palace will jointly develop and implement various selective real estate projects in Vietnam; and PHI and SGP Palace will coordinate with international partners to develop and provide innovative construction materials with new technologies to Vietnam and other Southeast Asian markets.

“We are highly impressed with SGPs talented, professional and disciplined leaders and look forward to building a mutually rewarding association that is expected to bring about substantial benefits to both companies,” said Mr. Henry Fahman, Chairman and CEO of the PHI Group.

“We are very pleased to partner with the PHI Group to assist our company to go public in the US, which we believe will greatly enhance shareholder value, liquidity, and access to international capital markets to further our growth and expansion,” said Mr. Quy Minh Le, Chairman and General Director of SGP Palace. “In addition, by joining forces with PHI we will be better positioned to take advantage of our combined strengths and undertake potential significant real estate and other projects in Vietnam.”

SGP Palace has an excellent track record in the field of hospitality and real estate investment and is currently developing a number of prominent projects in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere in Vietnam.

The PHI Group was instrumental in taking the first Vietnamese company public on the US stock market: the Cavico Corporation, which was previously listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market and is currently engaged in the areas of agriculture, renewable energy, real estate, consumer goods and mergers and acquisitions in Vietnam.  

PHI also announced it has terminated a memorandum of understanding with the MHD Hanoi Investment JSC it signed in August.

VIB issues 2,800 non-convertible bonds

The Vietnam International Commercial Joint Stock Bank (VIB) has announced the result of Phase 1 of its bond issuance in 2018.

It issued 2,800 non-convertible bonds on September 27, secured by assets and not accompanied by warrant. The bonds have a term of three years and are in denominations of VND1 billion ($42,875).

The bank collected VND2.8 trillion ($119.9 million) from the issuance.

VIB has been a preferred bank in issuing bonds to increase secondary funds in recent times. It also issued VND1.1 trillion ($47.1 million) in long-term bonds last year.

Issuing bonds to increase capital is a solution chosen by many banks, raising capital to improve their minimum capital adequacy ratio (CAR).

It also helps balance the capital maturity structure, especially when the regulation on short-term capital ratios for medium and long-term loans will be cut to 45 per cent from January 1.

VIB’s total assets reached VND127.29 trillion ($5.4 billion) as at June 30, up 3.4 per cent from the beginning of the year. Loans to customers increased 9.3 per cent and deposits 10.2 per cent. Pre-tax profit in the first half of this year was three-fold higher year-on-year and reached VND1.1 trillion ($47.1 million), fulfilling 57 per cent of the annual plan. After-tax profit was VND921 billion ($39.4 million).

VIB was founded on September 18, 1996, with a head office at 16 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi.

As at December 31, 2017, VIB had become one of the leading commercial joint stock banks in Vietnam, with total assets of VND123.2 trillion ($5.2 billion). Charter capital is now VND5.6 trillion ($240.1 million) while shareholder equity is nearly VND9 trillion ($385.6 million). It has more than 5,000 people working at 162 branches and transaction offices in 27 key cities and provinces around Vietnam, serving almost 2 million customers.


VIB sets sights on credit institution

The Board of Management at Vietnam International Bank (VIB) submitted a series of measures, including merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, to shareholders at its annual general meeting (AGM) on April 27.

The Board submitted a plan for purchasing the business activities of a credit institution in Vietnam, including its assets and liabilities.

It proposed shareholders authorize the Board to determine the list of assets and liabilities purchased, negotiate and determine prices, submit VIB’s assignment of assets and liabilities of the business to competent State authorities for approval, determine the content of the contract, and decide upon the timing of the purchase.

It also proposed that shareholders authorize it to set up, divest, and close the operations of subsidiaries, with a value of up to 30 per cent of the bank’s equity but not exceeding 50 per cent of charter capital in all cases, and to invest capital and buy shares in other credit institutions up to 30 per cent of its equity but no more than 50 per cent of charter capital, and buy other credit institutions’ debt under market mechanisms, with such purchases to not exceed VND6 trillion ($264 million).

Earlier, VIB was one of five banks planning to buy ANZ’s retail banking business in Vietnam. ANZ, however, announced it had reached agreement on the sale to Shinhan Vietnam, to be completed by the end of the year.

Shinhan Bank partners with Bao Viet Insurance

Shinhan Bank Vietnam Ltd. (Shinhan Bank) has officially announced its partnership with Bao Viet Insurance Corporation (Bao Viet Insurance), and concurrently, launched new insurance products and services to customers.

Specifically, Bao Viet Insurance’s products introduced through network of Shinhan Bank include: Private Housing Insurance, Vehicle Insurance and Private Wealth Management Global Care (aetna Ultra Care).

The highlighted one among these products is Private Wealth Management Global Care (aetna Ultra Care), with coverage limit up to $5 million per year. This product is expected to meet the needs of Shinhan Private Wealth Management customers, who would seek for a world-standard insurance package.

At the signing ceremony, Mr. Shin Dong Min – CEO of Shinhan Bank in Vietnam, said: “I believe that Shinhan’s customers will receive the best customer service and benefits with Bao Viet’s extensive experience in this industry. The partnership with Bao Viet Insurance to launch insurance products through 30 branches of Shinhan is considered a strategic step to expand our retail market, a very potential market for stakeholders in both insurance and banking”.

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Viet, CEO of Bao Viet Insurance, shared: “With this partnership agreement, Bao Viet Insurance and Shinhan Bank will become reliable partners in our business development strategy in the coming time. Bao Viet Insurance believes that with the strong resources of both parties, this partnership will open up new opportunities for better cooperation and development of commercial insurance. This is expected to bring the surplus value and create the pathway for customers to develop personal and business activities”.

Under this partnership agreement, Shinhan and Bao Viet commit to develop the appropriate insurance packages with outstanding benefits to bring the highest satisfaction to customers. This partnership is also a landmark of the ongoing strong growth in insurance and banking business co-operation between Vietnam and Korea.

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