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Japanese partner wants to be Vietnam Airlines’ strategic investor

Last update 11:35 | 06/10/2015


VietNamNet Bridge - ANA Holdings, which operates All Nippon Airways (ANA), is seeking to purchase a strategic stake of Vietnam Airlines.



ANA Holdings may become Vietnam Airlines' strategic shareholder.



ANA Holdings told Financial Times that it intended to invest in a Southeast Asian airline after raising $1.4 billion from issuing stocks in 2012. This is part of its international and regional development strategy. However, its discussion with many airlines was not successful. Last year, ANA Holdings canceled the plan to buy 49% stake in Asian Wings Airways of Myanmar with $25 million.

Vietnam could be an attractive market for ANA. Many Japanese firms have been actively investing in this market, given the need to reduce dependence on China. Direct investment by Japanese companies in Vietnam tripled to $9 billion in the 2011-2014 period, compared to four years earlier, according to the Japanese Trade Promotion Organization (JETRO).

ANA may have many opportunities as the Vietnamese Government is seeking a strategic partner for Vietnam Airlines after the carrier sold a 5% stake to investors in the IPO last year. A source said that Vietnam wanted to sell an additional 20% of shares to a partner.

At the meeting with the Minister of Transport in late September, Vietnam Airline Chairman Pham Viet Thanh said the corporation was negotiating with a big Japanese investor.

At the first shareholders' meeting in March 2015, Vietnam Airlines announced that it would release more than 282 million individual shares (equivalent to 20% of charter capital) to no more than three strategic investors (airlines or financial investors).

The selling prices for strategic investors shall be determined on the basis of commitments of strategic investors, but not less than VND22,300 per share. At this price, Vietnam Airlines can raise nearly VND6,300 billion from the issuance for expanding its fleet.

In related news, the Vietnam Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba) has transferred the entire 29% stake in Sapporo Vietnam (SVL) to Sapporo International Inc. (Japan).

After the deal, SVL has officially become a 100% Japanese owned firm. The value of this deal was not disclosed but according to Nikkei, Sapporo International spent $8.28 million to buy these shares.

According Vinataba, the divestment is to implement the Vietnamese government’s policy on the disinvestment of state-owned groups from non-core businesses.

Sapporo is the oldest beer brand in Japan, which started in 1876 and is now available in 40 countries around the world. Sapporo Vietnam Ltd., a joint venture between Vinataba and Sapporo Holdings was founded in 2010, with a factory in Long An province, which has a designed capacity of 150 million liters of beer/year. Along with the domestic market, Sapporo Premium beer produced in Vietnam is exported to 12 countries worldwide.

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Many countries welcome TPP deal completion

Last update 20:35 | 06/10/2015


The completion of the historic Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on October 5 has received positive response from many countries.


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a press conference on the TPP in Ottawa on October 5.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a speech in Ottawa immediately after the TPP’s signing that all industries and localities of Canada will benefit from the deal, which he described as the biggest trade agreement in history.
The PM also pledged compensation worth 4.3 billion CAD (3.3 billion USD) for farmers who will be affected by the TPP, which requires that Canada opens its market for dairy, egg, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, seafood, log and industrial goods within five years from the time the deal begins to take effect.
The PM affirmed that his Conservative Party will push forward with the implementation of the TPP if they win in the upcoming elections.
The same day, the opposition Liberal Party of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and many big economic groups in Canada also welcomed the completion of the TPP.
Blackberry CEO John Chen said the TPP will remove trade barriers and allow Canadian businesses to compete based on product and service quality.
The same day, Mexican Economic Secretary Guajardo Villarreal said the TPP will open up new business opportunities for Mexico in sectors related to the six Asian-Pacific markets which are Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam, which are predicted to enjoy high economic growth in the next 25 years.
He also said the deal will be a model for later trade agreements, adding that Mexico has been able to achieve a balance between national interests and the benefits of so-called sensitive sectors such as automobile and parts, garment and textile and agricultural products.
With the TPP, Mexico will strengthen its foothold in Chile and Peru, its two priority trade partners in Latin America, while expanding its trade ties with Japan, the minister said, citing the ministry’s figures that the 11 other TPP partners account for 72 percent of Mexico’s trade and 55 percent of foreign direct investment flow into the country.
Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz also said Chile will benefit from the TPP.
Speaking from Valparaíso City, the minister hailed the TPP as a global trade deal, which surpasses the Doha negotiation.
He, however, noted that the deal will have to go through the parliament, with one of the most thorny issues being Chile’s biological and pharmaceutical products.
The TPP brings together 12 countries, which are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
After the signing, the document must receive approval from member countries’ governments and parliaments before taking effect.
Once realized, the TPP will become a free trade region of 800-million people, accounting for 30 percent of global trade and about 40 percent of the world’s economy.

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Economists deny prediction about additional 2% VND devaluation

Last update 17:00 | 16/09/2015


VietNamNet Bridge - Businesses and analysts have questioned the State Bank of Vietnam’s (SBV) statement that it would not devalue the dong any further until the end of 2015.



The Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) believes Vietnam may devalue the dong by 1 percent further to protect Vietnamese competitiveness.
The report released on August 20 by HSBC Vietnam predicted the dong/dollar exchange rate would rise from VND21,800 per dollar to VND22,830 by the end of 2015 and to VND23,300 by the end of 2016.

Analysts said that HSBC, like other financial institutions, has reasons for such a prediction.

“No one can say for sure what the exchange rate will be. Vietnam cannot print the greenback, while SBV is not a powerful agency which can determine the greenback value,” an analyst said.

“The dong/dollar exchange rate will depend on many factors, including the US Federal Reserve’s decision on prime interest rates and the performance of global economies, including China,” he said.

The central bank had to devalue the dong by 3 percent this year, though it promised not to devalue the currency by more than 2 percent.

Dr. Le Dang Doanh, a renowned economist, noted that HSBC based the prediction on the information it collected and analysed.

While declining to comment on HSBC’s prediction, Doanh said there were two important factors to affect the dong/dollar exchange rate in upcoming days – the Chinese yuan price fluctuation and the US FED’s decision on the prime interest rate.

According to Doanh, indexes all show a poor performance of the Chinese economy, which may have been the reason for the Chinese government’s devaluation of its currency.

“The demand in China and the world has decreased sharply, while Chinese supply is very high. The demand for cement and steel, for example, just accounts for 50-60 percent of the supply. Meanwhile, China’s debts are relatively high,” Doanh explained.

“This could be the information HSBC referred to when predicting the moves to be taken by the Vietnamese government,” he said.

“The best attitude for the central bank to have now is to convey the message that it will try to stabilize the exchange rate if there are no abnormal changes,” he said.

Dr Vo Tri Thanh, deputy head of the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM), said the scenario of the Chinese government devaluing the yuan sharply and the FED adjusting the interest rate “needs to be considered”, because this would affect Vietnam’s forex policy.

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Instant noodle market’s golden days are over

Last update 10:00 | 16/09/2015


VietNamNet Bridge - The instant noodle market has become saturated after a long period of hot development. However, investors are still pouring more money into the sector.



Analysts noted that the market’s heyday, when the growth rate was high at over 20 percent per annum, is over.

Since 2013, the growth has slowed down to 5 percent. Manufacturers now compete fiercely with each other to obtain larger market shares. The ad pieces about instant noodle products rarely appear on TV and mass media these days.

Some manufacturers advertised that their products are safer than others because their noodles are made of potato and green beans. Others say they do not use toxic colorings for their products. More recently, manufacturers rushed to market new products – noodles with eggs. Meanwhile, a new war of products with spicy and sour flavors has broken out.

Distributors have also joined the instant noodle market with products bearing private brands which sell at 5-10 percent lower prices than popular products.

Experts noted that the technologies used by manufacturers to make instant noodles are nearly the same. The difference are the types of products and marketing methods.

The instant noodle market is remapped every time an enterprise succeeds with its PR campaigns.

The director of an enterprise revealed that his budget on ads account for 60 percent of total marketing and sales costs.

Similar products

Analysts reported that supermarkets in HCM City now distribute instant noodles bearing 60 different brands, most of which are domestically made. Three largest manufacturers - Vina Acecook, Masan and Asia Food – hold 80 percent of the market share.

Kido Group, a newcomer, has signed a contract on setting up a joint venture with Saigon Ve Wong, while moving ahead with a plan to build four factories throughout the country.

Japanese Nissin has also announced it would continue pouring capital into a factory in Binh Duong province after three years of operation.

Brand Footprint 2014, a report of Kantar Worldpanel, noted that instant noodle is now the largest FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector. However, some analysts noted that the vast market worth VND25 trillion a year is saturated. Therefore, they think Kido’s plan to become the third largest manufacturer in the years to come is ‘too ambitious’.

For example, Taiwanese Uni-President still cannot gain success in Vietnam though it has been present here for 14 years and provides a wide range of products. The group is believed to be financially powerful, and makes wheat and seafood.

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Survey: Vietnamese consumers gaining power

last update 09:40 | 16/09/2015


Vietnam is considered a land of opportunities where consumers now have more power and willingness to spend, according to a recent report released by the global performance measurement company Nielsen.





Vietnam Consumer Landscape 2015 found Vietnamese among the most optimistic consumers globally since they are earning more and spending more.

Their monthly income per capita increased by 44 percent between 2010 and 2012, and the rate of consumption by 32 percent.

As a result, Vietnamese have a strong desire for a better life, with 73 percent of consumers polled being willing to pay more for higher quality as well as health, and 39 percent considering health as their top concern.

The highest percentage of saving every month is for children's future (34 percent), health (12 percent) and first time home purchase (11 percent).

Vietnamese have more opportunities to shop and buy than ever before. E-commerce is playing an important role when 42 percent of consumers bought groceries at supermarkets.

Convenience has become a way of life and the shift starts with young people and professionals. Around 23 percent of students and 36 percent of white-collar workers/professionals often shop at supermarkets and convenience stores.

The number of convenience stores in the country more than doubled last year to 348 from 147 in 2012, while the number of mini-marts increased to 600.

But traditional groceries outlets remain dominant. More than 80 percent of the sales of consumer goods was done through the 1.3 million traditional outlets nation-wide.

Technology has brought Vietnamese people more opportunities to stay connected. Smart phone sales are booming, with nearly half of Vietnamese owning one. When watching video programming, 62 percent use of people computers, 30 percent use mobile phones and 26 percent use tablets.

E-tailing is growing now with 28 percent of consumers preferring to shop online for home delivery.

Nielsen, which is headquartered in the US, studies consumers in more than 100 countries.

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Vietnam cbank counters yuan devaluation to buck external risks to national economy



UPDATED : 08/13/2015 17:42 GMT + 7



A Tuoi Tre photo shows Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, giving a speech at a conference in Hanoi on January 30, 2015.


The swift move of Vietnam’s central bank on Wednesday in response to the devaluation of the Chinese yuan will fortify the local banking and financial system so that it will stand firmly against any external destabilizing factors, according to a senior official of the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

The move by the SBV, which is the central bank, allows the local currency, the Vietnamese dong, to be traded more flexibly within a widened trading band to cope with China’s depreciation of its currency against the U.S. dollar and is aimed at ensuring the competitiveness of Vietnamese goods.

Beijing devalued the yuan by 4.6 percent between Tuesday and Thursday, sending shock waves across the globe and triggering many countries to depreciate their currencies against the greenback, in a bid to encourage exports in order to speed up its slowing economic growth.

The SBV gave the green light on Wednesday for the trading band for interbank dollar/dong transactions to move from one percent to two percent after China’s central bank depreciated the yuan by 1.9 percent against the dollar one day before.

New trading band

The SBV’s move paved the way for dollar/dong transactions to fluctuate within a band of plus or minus two percent around the midpoint, which the central bank sets daily.

The midpoint has been held at 21,673 dong per dollar since May 7, when the SBV devalued the local currency by one percent for the second time this year, aiming to spur exports and curb demand for imports that have left it with a hefty trade deficit, according to Reuters.

The new trading band allows a range from VND21,240 to VND22,106 to the greenback.

The expansion of the trading band for interbank dollar/dong transactions will help the local banking system be more proactive and flexible in maneuvering foreign exchange rates prior to the adverse impact on the international market, Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy governor of the SBV, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in an interview on Wednesday.

Since early this year, there have been many developments beyond the forecasts of both international and domestic financial and economic organizations, she said.

Those developments included a drop in the price of oil to its lowest level in many years, the high possibility of an interest rate hike of the U.S. Federal Reserve (FED), as well as the deterioration of the European economy triggered by the economic crisis in Greece, Hong added.

All of those factors have given the U.S. dollar a chance to rise at a much higher rate in value than the rate the FED had expected, she said.

Right at the beginning of the year, Vietnam’s central bank expected to be challenged by the extraordinary changes that would adversely affect the local foreign exchange rate and exports, so it has actively devalued the dong by two percent, Hong added.

Therefore, the foreign exchange market and exchange rate have remained basically stable over the past seven months.

However, the yuan fell sharply recently, igniting the depreciation of a series of key Asian currencies, as well as a decline in the price indices on the international commodity markets, which can be considered as new external shocks for Vietnam.

China and other Asian countries are the main trade partners of Vietnam, and the Southeast Asian country is running a big trade deficit with its northern neighbor, so the devaluation of their currencies will adversely affect the exchange rates and exports of Vietnam, Hong asserted.

Therefore, the SBV decided to widen the exchange rate’s trading band by one percent to make the local economy fit in the new situation, she added.

Regarding the question of why the central bank chose to do this rather than officially devalue the dong, Hong said expanding the trading band is more appropriate for Vietnam, as a more flexible band helps maintain macroeconomic stability and better copes with the risks and uncertainties of international markets.

When asked what the SBV will do to stabilize the exchange rate and the foreign exchange market in the coming time, Hong said the central bank will closely monitor both national and international market developments to synchronously take many measures and use policy tools to stabilize the Vietnamese banking and financial system.

Under control

Truong Van Phuoc, vice chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, told Tuoi Tre that the exchange rate mechanism of Vietnam is called a regulated management mechanism.

Accordingly, the central bank announces the daily rate and the average interbank rate, which local banks will adopt by applying the trading band to sell or buy on the foreign exchange market.

One can see that the Chinese yuan has surged by about 30 percent in 2005, Phuoc said.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese dong has dropped by 40 percent, from around VND15,500 per dollar to VND22,000 per dollar, he elaborated, adding that excluding inflation, the exchange rate advantage of the dong is still bigger than the yuan by about 70 percent.

According to Dr. Nguyen Duc Thanh, director of the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research, under the University of Economics and Business, the SBV’s move to loosen the trading band can be seen as an effective way to devalue the dong without really doing so.

With this mechanism, the central bank did not change the core rate, VND21,673 to the dollar, to keep its word on not devaluing the dong by over two percent this year, he told Tuoi Tre.

But in fact, with the loosened trading band, the market will quickly take the exchange rate toward the other allotted end of the band, Thanh said.

This is the administrative procedure, which is not really important; the more important thing is that the central bank has responded swiftly and positively, he added.

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HCM City property rebounds

August, 14 2015 08:18:02




A part of Phu My Hung Urban Area in HCM City. The housing market in HCM City recovered in the first half of this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Kim Phuong


HCM CITY (VNS) — The HCM City housing market is recovering thanks to effective government policies like allowing foreigners and overseas Vietnamese to buy houses, an industry insider has said.

Le Hoang Chau, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association, said the new regulation that housing projects need to be guaranteed by banks would usher in huge changes.

He hailed them as legal provisions that are totally consistent with the trend of international integration and which help build trust among consumers and secondary investors, leading to a sharp increase in property transactions.

In the first six months there were around 7,050 successful transactions in the city, 2.8 times the number in the same period last year, while prices have risen by 3-5 per cent.

The small- and medium-sized segment priced at around VND1 billion ($46,728) remained steady as always, but the luxury segment saw positive changes, with many projects getting under way or hitting the market.

Chau said M&A activities are strong in the property sector and would help revive stalled projects.

In HCM City 689 projects have been shelved while 85 others lost their licence.

But admittedly there are also problems the industry has to tackle, especially in the social and low-income housing segments in which supply is inadequate. Also, the VND30 trillion ($1.41 billion) bank housing credit package has been disbursed too slowly.

The association called on authorities to quickly issue detailed guidance, and with open and transparent provisions, for the amendments made to the Housing Law, Real Estate Business Law, Investment Law, and Business Law to create a favourable environment for market activities. — VNS


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60 plants join power market by August

Last update 10:46 | 14/08/2015


As many as 60 power plants have joined the electricity market directly so far this year with a total capacity of 14,952 megawatts, accounting for 40 percent of the national power system, according to the National Load Dispatch Centre (NLDC).






By the end of July, the centre was operating 107 power plants with an installed capacity of 37,594 megawatts and 750 transformer stations of 500/220/110 kilovolts with a total capacity of 99,914 mega-volt amperes.

This year, power output is expected to reach 163.1 billion kilowatt hours, up 12.1 percent compared to 2014.

Competitive wholesale power market design approved

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has issued a decision approving a detailed design for the competitive electricity wholesale market, which allows all units owning 30-megawatt (MW) power plants and above to join the market.

According to Decision 8266/QD-BCT, under-30MW power generators can also take part in the market if they meet infrastructure demands.

Meanwhile, build-operate-transfer projects can join the market either directly or through a representative unit from the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN).

Imported electricity and wind, solar and geothermal generators, as well as under-30MW hydropower plants, are not designed to be involved in the market.

Buyers will be grouped into five corporations – Northern, Southern and Central Region; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Power Corporations.

The roadmap for the implementation of the competitive electricity wholesale market consists of four periods with initial pilot operation period beginning on 2016. Official launching of the market is slated for 2019.

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Vietnam Doubles Currency Band After China Devaluation

HANOI, Vietnam — Aug 12, 2015, 1:50 AM ET





Vietnam doubled the trading band of its currency Wednesday to allow it to weaken following an unexpected devaluation of the Chinese yuan.

The State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement that the dong can now be traded in a band 2 percent above or below the central bank-set reference rate compared with 1 percent before.

The announcement comes after the People's Bank of China devalued the tightly-controlled yuan by 1.9 percent on Tuesday, its biggest one-day fall in a decade, and let it drop another 1.6 percent Wednesday.

China's government said the devaluation was part of reforms meant to make its exchange rate more market-oriented. But the decision accentuated worries over the health of the world's second-largest economy following a slump in exports, pulling shares, Asian currencies and prices of oil and other commodities sharply lower.

Vietnam's central bank said the yuan's devaluation will have a "negative impact on the Vietnamese economy" because of the substantial trade between the two countries that is tilted in favor of China's exports.

Two-way trade was $59 billion last year in which Vietnam recorded a deficit of $29 billion.

The devaluation will "help the dong to be more flexible and be proactive in coping with the negative impacts in international markets and ensure the competitiveness of Vietnamese products," the central bank said.

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Weaker Chinese yuan to take toll on Vietnamese exporters




UPDATED : 08/12/2015 16:55 GMT + 7







fears of a global currency war, Vietnamese exporters also face immediate concerns as their goods are now more expensive in China, their major exporting market.The People's Bank of China devalued the yuan by 1.9 percent against the U.S. dollar, sending the currency to a four-year low, in a move to boost exports following a run of poor economic data, according to Reuters.

A cheaper yuan will help Chinese exports by making them less expensive on overseas markets, especially Vietnam, where Chinese goods of all kinds are widely available at already low prices.

Vietnamese manufacturers and exporters are scratching their heads over fears that they will have to cut prices, while Chinese imports will become far cheaper.

For Vietnamese cashew exporters, the devalued yuan is a double whammy, as the depreciation came after China increased the value-added tax for the product, one of Vietnam’s staples, from five percent to 13 percent, according to the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas).

“I was still wondering why they hiked the VAT when I learned of the yuan devaluation,” Vinacas chairman Nguyen Duc Thanh told Tuoi Tre(Youth), after returning from a cashew exporter meeting in China.

With the cheaper yuan, Chinese importers have to pay more for signed contracts with payments in U.S. dollars.

“For instance, while Chinese firms paid 48,880 yuan for an $8,000 contract to import one metric ton of Vietnamese cashews, the amount of money is now 49,840 yuan,” Thanh elaborated.

“The importers thus have to either hike their selling prices or demand the exporters lower their quotes to offset the extra cost.”

While Vietnamese cashew exporters used to be able to increase the prices of shipments to China at this time of the year, with the Mid-Autumn Festival nearing, Thanh is pessimistic about them not having the chance again this year.

Insiders from the seafood and agro-produce exporting sectors also say the biggest concern is that Chinese importers will buy from other suppliers at lower prices, as Vietnamese goods will become more expensive.

Many countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, weakened their own currencies immediately after China announced its devaluation of the yuan on Tuesday.

These countries are both major markets and rivals of Vietnamese exporters of rice and seafood, according to industry insiders.

More than 90 percent of Vietnamese seafood exporters choose to complete payments in U.S. dollars, and the devaluation of other currencies against the greenback would only exacerbate the situation, according to the Vietnam Association for Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).

“Vietnamese catfish will be under pressure to cut prices to enter China in the future,” VASEP general secretary Truong Dinh Hoe said.

“In the meantime, Vietnamese shrimp will also be more expensive than shipments from Thailand, Indonesia and India, and the importers will of course choose suppliers with the cheaper prices.”

Other economic experts are concerned that Vietnam’s trade deficit with China will widen as Chinese imports become cheaper.

“The yuan devaluation affects both the import and export activities of Vietnam with China, worsening the trade imbalance,” Associate Professor Tran Hoang Ngan, a prestigious economist, said.

Vietnam posted a trade deficit of $28.8 billion with China in 2014, according to the General Statistics Office.

The trade gap in the first seven months of this year was $20 billion.

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