10/24/2014 @ 12:01PM 50 views
Video: Money Manager Says It's Really Vietnam's Time
Bill Stoops - CIO Dragon Capital
It was early 2003 when I published a cover of Forbes Asia headlined, “Vietnam’s Moment.” This story was not the last premature call of that economy’s reawakening from its post-war Communist slumber. The always industrious Vietnamese people have gone through boom and bust cycles since, as trade and finance is opened up a bit, enough to get into trouble.
There remains a long way to go to an open, transparent economy (and society) but more is going right now. The property market is shaking off the worst of the last credit binge, big state companies are being opened up to outside investment and scrutiny (one even made a Forbes Asia top-performer list) and consumer and export sectors are showing strength. Multinationals are increasingly present (here’s the latest news of Japanese interest in the textile output). Individual enrichment is still a sore point, but acceptance of the profit motive, by same name or another, is inevitable.
Bill Stoops, whose business it is to tout the prospects for Vietnam in his role as chief investment officer of Dragon Capital, one of two big money-managers there, makes the case that this time, the growth story is real. Early this year he also was optimistic in a discussion with one of our contributors; though there’ve been further fits and starts since in the emerging and frontier markets (Vietnam is considered the latter), he’s staying on message. And it’s a tight one.
In this video discussion, we go over the macroeconomic shifts and some elements of the Vietnam story to watch out for, including its role as a China alternative: Click the link below to watch the video.
Last update 07:54 | 24/10/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Within the first 24 hours after the first shop in HCM City opened, McDonald’s received 22,500 customers, equal to one-tenth of the population in one district in the city.
The first McDonald’s shop served 22,500 customers within 24 hours of the opening
This shows the attractiveness of the Vietnamese market and explains why foreign investors have flocked to Vietnam.
Andy Ho from VinaCapital, an investment fund management company, said that if the sales of McDonald’s shops all over the globe in the first month of operation were compared, the shop in HCM City would rank second in the chain, just below Beijing, and above the third-ranked shop in Moscow.
Henry Nguyen, managing director of McDonald’s Vietnam, said at a press conference earlier this year that the first McDonald’s shop served 22,500 customers within 24 hours of the opening day, while the figure reached 400,000 in the first month.
The 2009 population census showed that 1.68 million people living in urban areas were aged 10 to 24, a potential market in which one in four people could be viewed as customers.
In District 1, the central area of HCM City, where the fast food brand set up its first shop, one of every 10 local residents visited the shop in the first month.
The sales of McDonald’s shows the strong growth of the Vietnamese market, Andy Ho said.
Investors consider the scale of the targeted markets before deciding whether to offer money.
Having been present in the last 20 years in Vietnam, Heinrich Hiesinger, managing director of ThyssenKrupp, said that Vietnam is a market with great potential for European investors thanks to its young population, high consumption demand and high economic growth rate.
The managing director said the group had decided to make long-term investments in Vietnam, though the businesses sometimes have not gone smoothly. The group now runs three factories in Vietnam which brings turnover of $150 million a year.
A branding expert noted that the young population is also one of the reasons that attract foreign retailers.
Other big groups eyeing Vietnam are Walmart, Central Group, Berli Jucker and 7-Eleven.
A survey conducted by Teikoku Databank found that Japanese companies were now more optimistic about Vietnam as an investment destination because of its low costs and young labor force.
The survey also found that Vietnam ranked fourth on the list of most attractive sale markets, following China, the US and Thailand.
A report from the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), an arm of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), showed that though the registered foreign direct investment (FDI) capital in the first nine months of 2014 was lower than the figure for the same period last year, the number of licensed projects was higher.
The report showed that 1,152 projects received investment certificates this year, an increase of 32 percent over the same period of 2013.
Last year, the high level of promised investment capital was due to the presence of huge oil refinery and real estate projects. The number of licensed projects increased by 12 percent only.
By Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News
HANOI - Friday, October 24, 2014 21:13 Email Print
The chairman of a Hanoi-based bank was detained Friday as part of an ongoing probe into allegations that he had violated lending regulations.
Ha Van Tham, Chairman of Ocean Bank, was arrested Friday pending investigations into lending violations. Photo credit: Ocean Bank
Police from the Ministry of Public Security have detained Ha Van Tham, Chairman of Ocean Bank, for four months while they looked into the charges against him, a ministry official told Thanh Nien Friday afternoon.
Earlier on the same day, the State Bank of Vietnam, the country's central bank, announced that the board of Ocean Bank on Oct. 23 dismissed Tham, 42, from his post in Ocean Bank following allegations of “seriously violating banking regulations.”
"Through investigation, the State Bank of Vietnam has found some serious violations of the law by Mr. Ha Van Tham himself," it said in a statement.
“The State Bank of Vietnam is closely cooperating with relevant authorities to strictly deal with the violations at Ocean Bank under the law,” the central bank said on its website, without elaborating any further.
Before being arrested, Tham, a Doctor of Business Administration from US-based Paramount University of Technology, had been Chairman of Ocean Bank since 2007.
Besides, the Hanoi-based businessman had been Chairman of property developer Ocean Group and hotel operator Ocean Hospitality.
Ocean Group holds a 20 percent stake in Ocean Bank and more than 75 percent in Ocean Hostapility, Ocean Securities, Ocean Media, Ocean Retail, and commodity exchange INFO, the group says on its website.
Tham had earned many national titles including “Outstanding Vietnamese Businessman” in 2009 and “the 2011 Red Star Award” – which honors outstanding young entrepreneurs.
As Tham had been removed from his post, Ocean Bank general director Nguyen Minh Thu was voted as new chairman by the lender’s board of directors, the central bank said.
Ocean Bank’s business is unaffected by this case, it added.
Ocean Bank, headquartered in Hanoi, was founded in 1993. The lender said in April it aims to raise its registered capital from VND4 trillion (US$188 million) to VND5.35 trillion ($252 million) by this December.
It posted a pre-tax profit of VND232 billion ($10.9 million) last year.
Last update 11:17 | 21/10/2014
VietNamNet Bridge - A relatively new career path opening up in Vietnam is that of becoming a pilot, a highly rewarding profession that demands rigorous training and mastery of a diverse set of skills. Averie Nguyen meets some of the women that conquer our skies on a daily basis under the employ of Vietjet.
Vietnamese pilot Nguyen Phuong Anh and Filipino pilot Antonette Parucha.
Born and raised in the Polish capital of Warsaw, 29-year-old Anna Jastrzebska, who is fluent in three languages, bypassed other candidates to become Vietjet’s first female pilot in 2012.
Anna became familiar with planes and flying at a young age thanks to her father, an amateur pilot. “I am grateful that my dad is a pilot,” she says. “My passion for flying began when my father took me with him on his glider for the first time. That passion is still with me now.”
Unlike Anna, 33-year-old Filipino pilot Antonette Parucha was originally drawn to the uniform. “In college, a female student caught my attention one day when she wore a very nice outfit. When I found out it was pilot’s wear, I felt that I wanted to be in that uniform and one day I would be in that uniform,” she explained.
Before starting her career as a pilot, Antonette was a flight dispatcher and then a flight instructor. “I worked with Private Charter Aviation Company as a flight dispatcher after finishing a flying course,” she tells Timeout. “My bosses encouraged me to get a pilot's license and I did. Then, I worked part time as a pilot alongside my responsibilities as a flight dispatcher.”
After quitting her job as a flight dispatcher, Antonette flew as a charter pilot and also became a flight instructor. “As a flight teacher, I gained new skills and learned a lot when sharing my knowledge and experience to students. Whenever I released a student for solo (flight), I experienced mixed feelings of happiness and pride that I was now part of a future pilot’s career,” beams the former teacher.
Polish pilot Anna Jastrzebska.
Both Anna and her husband work as pilots, their busy schedules making their moments together all the more valuable. “When we have spare time, we usually cook, play sport, or travel,” she says.
The living environment in Vietnam can also be a problem. “Traffic in Vietnam is what concerns me the most. I have to truly concentrate and be careful each time I go out,” she laughs.
Agreeing with Anna, Antonette adds “working here in Vietnam is different from what I’m used to because of the diverse nationalities that make up the working environment.” As far as the Filipino pilot is concerned, being far away from family is also a difficulty to overcome.
“Prior to applying to Vietjet Air, I had no plans to work outside my country. However, out of curiosity, I submitted my application and got accepted. I decided to give it a try and work outside my comfort zone,” she adds.
Some people might think that in this male-dominated industry female pilots need to try harder to be equal to their male counterparts. However, Anna believes that women and men have equal capabilities to do important jobs such as piloting aircraft. “With passion and determination, as well as satisfying strict requirements on professionalism, accuracy and problem-solving skills, women can do the job even better than men.”
Vietnamese 29-year-old pilot Nguyen Phuong Anh thinks that self-belief is the most important attribute that a pilot needs to successfully complete a flight. “I remember my first solo. Oh my goodness, I could not think about anything besides the question ‘am I ready?’ I kept asking my instructor ‘do you think I am ready?’ He just encouraged me, closed the door and then waved me off,” she recalls.
“My heart wanted to jump out of my chest. Lining up with the centerline, I paused for a second to make last-minute checks and take one final deep breath before setting the wheels of that moment in motion,” she continues.
“The moment you take an aircraft into the sky then bring it back safely to the ground, the moment you have to take care of everything on your own, the moment you know that you cannot make any mistakes, the moment you believe that you can do anything, the moment you are overcome with pride, they are unforgettable,” she proudly shares.
Agreeing with Phuong Anh, Antonette adds that the happiness of passengers is also an inspiration. “Many times I notice somewhat diverse facial expressions when passengers see me, a woman, sitting in the cockpit. I just give them a smile in reply,” she says. “My smile assures them that they will have a safe flight. For me, seeing happy and contented passengers after landing is priceless.”
Anna believes that since it is a relatively new career path in Vietnam, pilots and female pilots in particular receive a high level of support from passengers and colleagues. “This is the true gift for me when working in Vietnam,” she says.
She adds that her family’s support is invaluable. “I am lucky that I have a husband who always encourages me in my job and shares in the household chores!”
Having been born in a country with a vastly different way of living, Anna believes that the warmth of the locals has helped her settle into her new surroundings. “This country is very different from my motherland. Whenever I begin to feel the contrast in my appearance and lifestyle, the friendliness of the people always wins me over.”
Last update 12:39 | 21/10/2014
Vietnam’s socio-economic development is progressing steadily, with economic growth likely to reach 5.8 percent this year, according to a Government report.
The report, which was delivered at the ongoing eighth session of the 13 th National Assembly in Hanoi on October 20, also showed that the economy continued to grow by 5.62 percent during the first nine months this year, higher than the same period last year.
Meanwhile, inflation declined to 2.25 percent in the nine-month period, the lowest in ten years, the report said, adding that the figure is expected to be less than 5 percent all year.
However, the report also pointed out that the country’s business environment and competitiveness have yet to improve, which, together with limited access to capital for businesses due to complex administrative procedures, resulted in a high number of business dissolution.
At the same time, slow credit growth and rising public debt were also a posing challenge to the country, the report said. The securities market is still unstable, while the real estate market was sluggish and exports by domestic firms remained low, it said.
Regarding the socio-economic plan for 2015, the report sets out targets of 6.2 percent for GDP growth and an inflation rate of 5 percent; a 1.7-2 percent decrease in poverty overall and a 4 percent decrease in poverty in poor localities; and 1.6 million new job opportunities, it said.
Later in the session, deputies heard a summary report on voters’ opinions, and a report on the NA Economic Committee's verification of the government's report on socio-economic development in 2014 and tasks for 2015.
They also debated reports on the prevention of and fight against corruption in 2014, and a proposal on the revision of textbooks for general education.
During the October 20 session, deputies also heard a report on the implementation of the State budget estimate for 2014, and a report on the budget estimate and central budget allocation for next year.
Last update 14:00 | 21/10/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Businesses would have more opportunities to access bank loans at low interest rates if the government had not issued so many bonds, experts believe.
Vietnamese have a saying “areca and rice, you can’t have both”. The areca nut tree, a drought-resistant plant, will bear good fruit in a dry year. Rice will wither and the rice crop will fail if it cannot get enough water. When farmers harvest bountiful rice crops, they will not have good areca crops, and vice versa.
The saying, according to analysts, reflects what is happening with monetary policy.
The government has issued bonds since the beginning of the year, but businesses complain about the lack of capital.
According to chinhphu.vn, the State Treasury had mobilized VND210.198 trillion worth of capital through bond issuances as of September 25, fulfilling 90.6 percent of the 2014 plan assigned by the Ministry of Finance.
However, analysts said the number of bonds was too high.
With expected capital of VND300 trillion to be mobilized through bond issuances, 2014 will be the year when government borrowing reaches the highest level.
Analysts said there had been no difficulties in mobilizing capital through bond issuances. As commercial banks have abundant capital, they throw the money into government bonds, a safe investment channel.
In other words, the government can easily seek capital to implement its development plans when issuing bonds, while commercial banks can use the optimal investment channel when buying bonds.
However, businesses have suffered from the profusion of bonds because they cannot access bank loans. Under such a scenario, commercial banks, which have injected money into bonds, do not feel compelled to increase lending to businesses.
Dr. Trinh Quang Anh, an independent researcher, commented that the volume of government bonds issued this year has created an obstacle to the possibility of a reduction in interest rates.
Agreeing with Anh, an analyst noted “that fiscal policy has caused major difficulties for monetary policy”.
According to the analyst, the government has continually borrowed money from commercial banks and then deposited the money in commercial banks. The state’s money in banks leads to an increase in the total money supply (M2).
Meanwhile, the capital that banks use to buy government bonds can actually be the state’s money deposited at the banks.
Dr. Phan Van Tinh, in an article published recently, said this was “using chicken fat to fry chicken”.
This will make it even more difficult for the State Bank to draw up monetary policies and regulate money-supply sources to curb inflation and stabilize exchange rates.
As a result, monetary policy regulating part of the capital in the national economy has been ineffective, he said.
Regarding the public debt, Deputy Chair of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the debt is now about 64 percent of GDP, and if it reaches 65 per cent, the “red-light” alarm would turn on.
Last update 14:00 | 20/10/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Under current regulations, the selling price of goods and services during promotions must not be lower than 50 percent of the price prior to the sale.
Many businesses believe this policy is outdated and needs to be changed.
State agencies, for example, this month refused to allow Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers, a 5-star hotel in HCM City, to offer a “buy 1, get 1 free” sale, under which clients would get a free glass of cocktail or beer between 4 pm and 6:30 pm.
The state management agency said the promotion violated the government’s Decree No 37 issued in 2006 on management of sale promotion activities.
The HCM City Tourism Association said many other hotels and travel firms had encountered this outdated regulation.
A lawyer commented that the regulation reflected excessive intrusion of the state in business operations.
He noted that many sellers and service providers want to stimulate demand by offering big discounts. However, with outdated regulations, businesses have found it difficult to boost sales and clear big inventories.
An official of the HCM City Tourism Association said that tourism agencies would be turned down by state agencies if they asked permission to offer such discounts.
However, many sales promotion campaigns with discounts of 80-90 percent continue to be run by some companies.
“I know a lot of companies have a “buy 1 and get 3 free” program. But they have not been punished,” he said.
Nguyen Thi Khanh said the city’s tourism association had sent a petition to state management agencies, requesting that the regulation on ceiling discount rates be abolished.
As the tourism sector is experiencing difficulties with the number of tourists on the decrease and low occupancy rates, Khanh said the state should think of creating more favorable conditions for hotels and travel firms to run promotions to boost demand, rather than setting restrictions that hinder business.
Last update 09:47 | 20/10/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Taiwanese-invested Formosa Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. based in Ha Tinh Province, in central Vietnam, has asked for the Ministry of Transport’s permission to establish its own steel-transport fleet in Vietnam.
According to Formosa’s petition sent to the Ministry of Transport, Ha Tinh province, the National Maritime Administration and the Board of Management of the Ha Tinh Economic Zone, after building two blast furnaces, each year the company would produce 7.1 million tons of finished steel products. It would need to have a fleet to transport such a high volume of steel products in Vietnam.
The company said that at least three million tons of steel products would be consumed in Vietnam, mainly in HCM City and Hanoi.
Formosa is a wholly-foreign owned firm. According to Article 6 of Decree No. 140/2007 / ND-CP detailing the Commercial Law regarding business conditions for logistics services, foreign firms offering maritime transport services are only allowed to establish joint-venture company fleets, in which the capital contribution ratio of foreign investors shall not exceed 49%.
However, in its petition, Formosa explained that its fleet would only transport its own steel products, so the fleet would not affect the business activities of other carriers.
Last update 17:00 | 20/10/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Corporations have many methods to bleed the national budget’s dry: evading tax, declaring inaccurate taxable income, delaying tax payments, and committing trade fraud.
The Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), for instance, has once again asked the state for tax and fee reductions on mined coal, citing huge losses due to overly high taxes and fees.
Analysts, however, says that Vinacomin often asks the state to reduce its taxes and fees when it encounters difficulties.
Last year, for example, the government cut the company’s coal export tariff to 10 percent from 13 percent, amid public opposition.
Vinacomin enjoyed its tax cut, but the government had to raise export tariffs in an effort to restrict exports in order to store coal for domestic use.
In late 2013, Vinacomin also asked the state for reduction and exemption of many kinds of taxes on their bauxite exploitation and processing projects in the Central Highlands, even though the company had been given many tax incentives.
In another case last year, Vinashin, the shipbuilder, asked the state for VAT and import tariff cuts. Most recently, Vinalines, the shipping firm, has asked for preferential port fees.
The loose management of state agencies has been exploited by enterprises seeking to squeeze money from state coffers.
A number of fraudulent VAT refund cases, for instance, have been discovered recently, worth billions of dong in each case.
In late 2013, the Kien Giang provincial police discovered fraud in a VAT refund case in one locality. A sum of VND109.4 billion had been refunded to a business declaring an export deal worth VND1.094 trillion, which they found existed only on paper.
And in December 2013, HCM City police uncovered five cases of smuggling and tax evasion. Of these, the taxes appropriated by the Saigon Food Technology Company totalled nearly VND100 billion.
Cao Anh Tuan, deputy general director of the General Department of Taxation, said that taxation bodies had inspected more than 39,000 businesses by the end of September, forcing businesses to pay VND7.4 trillion in additional taxes.
Of the 39,637 businesses inspected in the first eight months of 2014, the taxation bodies found signs of transfer pricing at 1,938 enterprises.
Not only have taxpayers been found breaking the law, but tax officers have also appropriated state money or lent a hand to taxpayers to commit fraud.
In late 2013, authorities discovered that HCM City’s District 1 Taxation Sub-department had kept VND1.441 trillion worth of taxes in its coffers that should have transferred to the state budget.
Last update 09:18 | 13/10/2014
VietNamNet Bridge – Both multinationals and major local companies have increased salaries by nearly the same rate this year, a survey by Mercer, a global provider of human resource services and its associate in Viet Nam, Talentnet Corporation, has found.
While the former pays 10.4 per cent higher, it is 10.5 per cent for domestic giants.
Hoa Nguyen, leader of Mercer Remuneration Surveys and Human Resource Consulting at Talentnet, speaking at a seminar in HCM City yesterday (Monday), said with not much change in business conditions and lower inflation forecast, the salary increase, nearly the same as last year, is expected to be at the same rate next year too.
The pharmaceutical, consumer goods, and chemicals industries were the top three in terms of salary hikes – at around 11 per cent — since they are not being impacted as much as others by the economic situation.
Real estate and banking saw the lowest salary increases of 8.4 per cent and 8.9 per cent due to difficult business conditions.
The survey pointed out that the difference in base salaries paid by multinational and Vietnamese companies remained high at 30 per cent, she said, adding that the difference gradually widen from professional to executive levels.
To attract talent from multinationals, local firms are willing at this juncture to pay out of their salary range for high-level positions.
However, it would take a number of years before big local companies' pay catches up with multinational companies', Hoa said.
For now, to attract, motivate, and retain the best employees, local companies often use long-term incentives such as stock offers and stock options.
When it came to paying bonuses, banking and oil and mining topped (22.7 per cent and 17.7 per cent relatively) with big local companies paying more than multinationals.
Trading and technology were the two sectors with the lowest bonuses.
The employee turnover rate last year decreased by 2 -3 per cent, with multinationals having lower rates than local companies (12.2 per cent versus 17.1 per cent), she said.
Multinational companies have in fact had the lowest rate for the last five years.
The highest turnover was in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, and insurance due to a shortage of talent.
The jobs of sales managers, sales executives, and marketing managers remained, as they have for long, the hottest, with companies having difficulty recruiting personnel and keeping them for long.
During periods of tough market conditions, sales managers are more important to businesses than marketing specialists since they directly bring revenues to the company.
A total of 473 multinational and local companies with more than 164,790 employees in various industries took part in the survey.
Last year's survey had polled 418 companies.
The increase in the number of Vietnamese companies taking part in the survey indicates their more serious attitude towards remuneration and desire to improve their salary budget more effectively and know exactly how competitive their salaries are compared to the market.
Godelieve Kroonenberg, Mercer's market business leader, ASEAN Information Solutions, said more flexibility in benefits, flexibility in pay mix, and more tailored communications with employees could be key to retaining employees for Vietnamese firms.