BUSINESS NEWS 12/8

Agricultural export value up 2% in first seven months of 2019

BUSINESS NEWS 12/8


The agricultural sector gained US$23.03 billion from farming, forestry and fishery exports in the first seven months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 2 per cent, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). The figure includes $3.55 billion of exports in July.

Major farm produce shipped overseas brought home $10.84 billion, with five billion-dollar categories including coffee ($1.8 billion), rubber ($1.1 billion), rice ($1.73 billion), cashews (nearly $1.8 billion) and fruits and vegetables ($2.3 billion).

However, the ministry said the total export value of the major agricultural products fell 8.2 per cent year on year due to a drop in several products like cashews (20.6 per cent), pepper (25.2 per cent), coffee (12 per cent) and rice (16 per cent).

The export prices of two main seafood exports, tra fish and shrimp, also dropped 3.2 per cent and 10.4 per cent to $1.16 billion and $1.73 billion, respectively, causing the total export value of seafood products to drop 1 per cent to $4.68 billion.

From January to July, shipments of the main forestry products earned the country about $6 billion, up 17.3 per cent year on year. This included $5.6 billion from wood and wooden products, up 16.1 per cent, and $264 million from bamboo and rattan products, soaring 46.6 per cent.

The ministry said global economic growth was projected to slow while agricultural development will bounce back in many countries. This combination of factors would pose a challenge to the country's forestry exports.

Fierce competition would pull prices of exports down. Large importers of Vietnamese goods like the US, the EU, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK) had imposed strict standards on quality management, food safety and origin traceability.

The ministry would work with businesses and associations to keep a close watch on the development of international markets and increase inspections to prevent smuggling.

Besides co-ordinating with ministries and sectors to stabilise traditional export markets and expand into new ones, helping reduce dependence on single country, the ministry would give production guidance to localities to ensure their products meet importers’ traceability requirements.

Attention would also be paid to developing brands for agricultural products, particularly those exported to the Chinese market, while authorities would set up a co-ordination mechanism with the Chinese General Administration of Customs to remove bottlenecks in agricultural trade between the two countries.

The ministry also reported the vegetable and fruit industry, which showed strong export growth in recent months, nevertheless post a slight reduction in export value in the first seven months of the year, down 0.8 per cent year on year to $2.3 billion, including $269 million in July.

China was the biggest importer of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits with nearly $1.5 billion, up 1.1 per cent year on year, accounting for 71.9 per cent of the market share. It was followed by the US ($70.2 million) and the RoK ($65.3 million).

Impressive growth was seen in exports of fruits and vegetables to Cameroon (up 10.16 times), the Dominican Republic (up 8.37 times) and Guam (5.11 times).

The Agro Processing and Market Development Department said the sector would have more chances to expand its export markets thanks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the recently signed EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).

The department advised businesses study the opportunities and challenges of the European market and markets of the 10 CPTPP member states and improve the quality of their products.

Safety initiative in apparel, footwear factories

The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) in co-operation with IDH – a Dutch sustainable trade initiative – kick-started the Life and Building Safety Initiative (LABS).

The initiative aims to protect workers from preventable structural, fire and electrical safety risks in apparel and footwear factories in Viet Nam.

Industry experts have stressed the importance of improving workplace safety for Vietnamese workers as the country has become a signatory to numerous global trade pacts such as the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Local businesses have been struggling to comply with stricter workplace safety and environmental standards in factories in Viet Nam as major international brands and distributors make them a business requirement. This is especially complicated for factories with multiple clients.

Under LABS, factories will commit to adhering to a country-level standard, which was built based on Vietnamese and existing industry regulations, of fire, electrical and building safety as well as environmental protection.

A pilot phase of the programme has been implemented at 29 apparel and footwear factories across the country with a plan to widen the scale in the near future.

Hoang Ngoc Anh, VITASs deputy general secretary, said the association fully supports LABS and its effort to improve workplace safety and to support Vietnamese businesses. She said VITAS is looking forward to more global brands and distributors working with the initiative in Viet Nam.

“Recent fires and the collapses of factories in many countries, resulting in high death tolls, highlight the importance of stricter structural safety. This has become a major concern for international brands and distributors. We are hoping that LABS will be playing an active role to contribute to the development of Viet Nams apparel and footwear industry,” said IDH Viet Nam director Huynh Tien Dung.

Apparel and footwear, which provides employment to more than 3 million workers across the country, of which 80 per cent are female, is a large part of Viet Nams economy with an export value of US$36.26 billion in 2018. It is forecast to hit the $40 billion mark at the end of this year. The industry has maintained a steady growth of 12-16 per cent annually since 2010.

In 2012, a garment factory fire broke out in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At least 117 people were killed by the fire and more than 200 were injured.

In August 2017, over 1,000 workers fled a footwear factory in Binh Tan District, HCM City after a fire broke out in the canteen.

In March 2018, a fire destroyed a textile factory in northern Vinh Phuc Province. Fortunately, as it happened during the night no one was hurt.

Building positive business values to integrate globally

Building a positive company culture is not only building a business brand and a national image, but an effective bridge for local enterprises to sustain development and integrate successfully into the global economy.

This is the consensus among experts and business leaders at a conference on building corporate culture in nine provinces and cities in the Red River Delta on August 6 in Hanoi.

Nowadays company culture is not only a buzzword but an important differentiator to set a company apart from others. It is the “soul of a business”, deciding the long-term success of enterprises. It is what attracts talents and customers.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in 2016 launched the campaign on building business culture among Vietnamese enterprises and decided to name November 10 annually as Vietnamese Business Culture Day.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the role of the company culture as a basic and critical requirement for sustainable development and enhancing competitiveness.

According to Mac Quoc Anh, vice chairman and general secretary of the Hanoi Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Hanoisme), Vietnamese enterprises have long-standing tradition with key products bearing Vietnamese culture.

Business leaders are paying higher attention to building culture through setting up labour regulations, organising training and corporate social responsibility programmes.

“We must build our own identity or people don’t know that is a Vietnamese enterprise or a Vietnamese product,” Anh told Viet Nam News.

Many countries and territories are investing in Vietnam and they all want to cooperate with companies with good culture, he said, adding that if companies did not have their own culture, they would be influenced by foreign culture when receiving foreign investment.

“Technology and products are changing rapidly to be competitive but culture must always be maintained and developed,” Anh said. As the whole economy is advancing into the digital age, Anh suggested companies use technologies to build and advertise their culture to the world.

Dang Thuy Ha, director and client leadership of Northern Region Nielsen Vietnam, also raised a question: “Business leaders always think about business strategy but have you thought about the culture strategy?”

Corporate culture had been proven to positively impact business results, Ha said, emphasising the companies with high scores in the set of indicators measuring corporate culture (strategy, market adaptability, intrinsic values, leadership style, enjoyment and solidarity) have better business performance.

“Everything in the company can be copied except for culture. It’s time for business leaders to pay attention to developing corporate culture,” Ha said.

Sharing experience in developing company culture of FPT Corporation, Bui Nguyen Phuong Chau said to go global, Vietnamese companies needed to determine the core values of the company, promote outstanding characteristics of Vietnamese people (smart and high adaptability) and absorb international standards to apply at work.

Speaking at the conference, vice chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Le Hong Son said the city was exerting efforts to promote investment, improve the business environment and develop businesses.

In the later months of this year, the city would continue improving the quality of business culture and hoped to get enthusiastic response from the business community in the locality and nine other provinces and cities.

The conference also witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements to implement the campaign to build Vietnamese business culture between the campaign organisation and nine provinces and cities in the Red River Delta.

They include Hanoi, Thai Binh, Hung Yen, Hai Duong, Nam Dinh, Ha Nam, Ninh Binh, Bac Ninh and Hai Phong.

Seven-month rice export up in volume, but down in value

Vietnam exported 4.01 million tonnes of rice worth 1.73 billion USD in the first seven months of 2019, up 2.1 percent in volume but down 14.3 percent in value year on year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The figures include 651,000 tonnes worth 285 million USD in July.

In the year’s first half, the Philippines was the biggest buyer that purchased 33.7 percent of Vietnam’s rice exports.

Meanwhile, the markets with strong growth in rice imports from Vietnam include Ivory Coast (up 67 percent), China’s Hong Kong (60 percent) and Saudi Arabia (38 percent).

Export rice prices averaged 431 USD per tonne in the six months, down 15 percent from the same period of 2018.

Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said this year, prices of agricultural products in the global market have decreased by 5 – 15 percent. Notably, rice prices have fallen sharply in all segments.

He explained that the El Nino impact in late 2015 and the first half of 2016 led to a decline in the world’s grain food output, forcing countries to re-balance their reserves. As a result, the rice market in 2018 was very good in terms of both export volume and value, helping Vietnamese rice prices reach a record of over 500 USD per tonne on average.

However, in 2019, many countries, including big ones that used to purchase a large volume of Vietnamese rice, have stocked up enough of the food.

Cuong said in the short term, it is necessary to explore new markets, especially those in Africa and ASEAN, to make up for the drop in shipments to China – a major importer. Meanwhile, production costs must be reduced by applying scientific advances to ensure profit for farmers.

In the long term, the agricultural sector is planning to switch 500,000ha of land currently under rice into that for aquaculture or fruit trees and other cash crops that suit the strengths of each locality to ease the rice output pressure.

The rice industry will need to promote processing and value chains so as to make use of not only the grain but also its by-products like husk, bran and oil and diversify products such as organic and medicinal rice, the minister noted. 

Japanese firm to build spice plant in Can Tho next year

Japan’s Takesho Food & Ingredients Inc plans to build a plant in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho by early 2020 to process shrimp heads and shells into materials for aquaculture and food processing after successful pilot cooperation with the Can Tho University (CTU), according to the company’s leader.

In particular, a Singaporean firm, the world’s fifth largest materials supplier, has agreed to use products churned out by the spice powder plant, said Takesho Chairman and Executive Director Toshinao Tanaka during a working session with municipal authorities on August 6.

He said the company and the CTU will study tra fish and rice bran products in the near future.

CTU Vice Rector Le Viet Dung said the university and the Japanese company signed an agreement last year to develop technology by hydrolysis method, which will churn out feed used for food processing.

Duong Tan Hien, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, vowed all possible support to the firm to build the plant in January 2020.

Week of Vietnamese Goods in Thailand slated for September

Five groups of Vietnamese goods have been chosen to be displayed at the Week of Vietnamese Goods in Thailand from September 18 – 22.

They include soft noodles and noodle soup, beverages (tea, coffee, mineral water), snacks (cashew nuts, macadamia, chocolate, honey), spices (pepper, salt, chili sauce, soya sauce), and fresh fruits, which are popular in Thailand.

It was revealed by Jariya Chiathivat, a representative from Thailand’s Central Group during a working session with Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai in Hanoi on August 6.

She said the event will popularise not only Vietnamese goods but also the country and its people.

During the event, Central Group and the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Department of European – American Markets will hold two training sessions to offer Vietnamese suppliers an insight into export requirements to Thailand.

Deputy Minister Hai committed all possible support to foreign enterprises and Central Group to do business in Vietnam.

Hanoi Gift Show 2019 to feature craft-making performance

A zone for craft-making performance will be arranged at the Hanoi Gift Show 2019, scheduled for October 17 – 20, according to Hoang Minh Lam from the Hanoi Industrial Promotion and Development Consultancy Centre.

The fair, the eighth of its kind, will take place at the National Construction Planning Exhibition, including about 650 booths displaying handicraft products from traditional handicraft producers both at home and overseas.

The show, which offers export opportunities and the chance for handicraft businesses to develop in a sustainable manner, is expected to welcome 10,000 visitors as well as hundreds of importers from many countries and territories.

A Hanoi Gift Show 2019, to support business connections will be held during the event, expected to host about 1,000 handicraft importers and producers, along with a workshop on market trends in the handicraft industry.

It will also include a zone for display of products made with artistic creativity, exquisite design and superb workmanship, Lam added.

Exhibitors at the annual trade fair will be supported to open booths free of charge and participate in the Match-and-Meet event, said Ha Thi Vinh, director general of the Quang Vinh Ceramic Co., Ltd. Her company has taken part in all seven editions of the event.

“It is a valuable opportunity,” Vinh said. “Handicraft businesses and producers in Hanoi have found a large number of customer at little cost.”

According to Nguyen Thi Luong, director of the Hien Luong Bamboo & Rattan Export Co., Ltd, the show gives the exhibitors access to many new customers, explore the market’s new trends and learn from others’ experience in improving management and bringing products to the world market.

New Joint Industry Project launched to cut wind energy costs

DNV GL, the world’s largest resource of independent energy experts and certification body, is calling on wind energy stakeholders to join a new Joint Industry Project to explore the potential of using light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to measure wind speed turbulence intensity for various applications in the wind industry.

Measuring meteorological conditions such as wind speed and turbulence intensity is essential for assessing and verifying the feasibility of new wind energy projects. For example, the data is used in the assessment of wind resources at potential sites as well as to validate both turbine loads and power performance that are required for type certification of new wind turbines.

Currently, industry standards from DNV GL and the IEC specify that these measurements must be made using so-called meteorological masts (met masts) – tall towers equipped with cup and sonic anemometers. However, installing met masts is very costly, particularly on offshore sites.

Recent advances in LIDAR technology offer a new way to carry out the meteorological measurements needed for turbine certification and site assessment at a much lower cost. The use of floating LIDARs also makes it possible to carry out measurements in previously inaccessible locations such as deep-water sites and enable more accurate energy yield assessment. As a result, LIDAR has the potential to help deliver significantly cheaper wind energy – both onshore and offshore.

The use of floating LIDARs also makes it possible to carry out measurements in previously inaccessible locations such as deep-water sites and enable more accurate energy yield assessment.
Consequently, LIDAR is becoming the preferred technology for wind resource measurements, and various methods for deriving TI information from LIDAR measurements have been proposed in research settings.

However, none of these methods have been verified and adopted at international standards, therefore, LIDAR measurements are not widely accepted by certification bodies, insurers, or authorities. By creating a Recommended Practice for LIDAR that is supported by players throughout the industry, the DNV GL-driven JIP aims to drive acceptance of LIDAR measurements and help reduce costs for turbine OEMs and wind project developers.

 

“Launching this Joint Industry Project is an important step in making LIDAR-measured turbulence intensity certifiable and accepted by different wind energy stakeholders,” says Kim Mørk, executive vice president Renewables Certification at DNV GL.

“As a certification body, it is our goal to support the wind industry in enabling cost-effective and reliable measurement of TI based on LIDAR data. The positive feedback we have already received from potential partners shows the strong desire within the industry for a new guideline.”

The JIP is intended for wind turbine and LIDAR manufacturers, wind farm developers, universities and research facilities, consultants and measurement institutes that are looking for guidelines to use LIDAR TI measurements for different applications.

Capital resources at billion-dollar casino project of KN Cam Ranh

The KN Paradise Cam Ranh of KN Cam Ranh Co., Ltd. has applied for the prime minister's approval to adjust its investment capital to VND46.371 trillion ($2.02 billion) to open a casino.

Regarding the charter capital, according to the project contents in Decision No.2539/QD-UBND of the Khanh Hoa People's Committee, KN Cam Ranh has a charter capital of VND790 billion ($34.35 million, according to the first modified business registration certificate on January 26, 2016). Since then, the company has increased its charter capital five times to VND7 trillion ($304.35 million, according to the 5th change in January 2018).

Long Thanh Golf Investment and Trading JSC contributed VND6.3 trillion ($273.9 million – 90 per cent) and Le Van Kiem contributed VND700 billion ($30.43 million – 10 per cent).

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment's evaluation of KN Cam Ranh Co., Ltd.'s financial capacity prior to land allocation, the company has registered to increase capital contribution by other parties from VND780 billion ($33.91 million) of the VND6.95 trillion ($302.39 million) to ensure that capital contribution stays at around 15 per cent in the project.

After receiving comments from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Investment, KN Cam Ranh has submitted a report to prove its ability to mobilise capital. Accordingly, in a document of Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank), Dong Sai Gon branch agrees in principle to provide funding for the project (Document No.1246/TB-CNÐSG-KHDN dated October 24, 2016).

More funding was sourced from customers who have bought apartments in the project, complying with the provisions of the Law on Housing and the Law on Real Estate Business.

Capital is also mobilised from construction contractors. According to KN Cam Ranh, some contractors want to use a part of their payments to invest in products such as villas and apartments in the project.

In addition, on June 16, 2017, the company also signed an agreement with the US-based Global Gaming Asset Management (GGAM). According to KN Cam Ranh, GGAM will be responsible for managing and operating the casino and will contribute 20-30 per cent of the total project investment. The two parties will agree on specific investment co-operation after the project is authorised by the local governments to add a casino facility.

On October 26, 2018, Orient Commercial Bank's (OCB), Binh Duong Branch issued Document No.47/CK/OCB-DB to KN Cam Ranh, promising that: "In case the foreign partner managing the casino and KN Cam Ranh cannot sign an investment co-operation contract after the casino element is greenlit, we agree in principle to provide VND9.275 trillion ($403.26 million) in funding, equivalent to 20 per cent of the total investment capital of the project."

Thus, most of the "huge" capital of the KN Paradise complex will come from bank loans, co-operation from foreign partners investing and managing casino operation, and other mobilised sources, accounting for 85 per cent. The remaining 15 per cent, equivalent to VND 6.95 trillion ($302.39 million) is capital of KN Cam Ranh.

Previously, the MPI has submitted to the prime minister the appraisal report about the casino project, which is one of the added facilities to KN Paradise Cam Ranh Complex. The Khanh Hoa People’s Committee approved in principle the complex's investment plan. At present, the investor proposed adjusting the location of the office building and wants to rename it while adding a 27-hole golf course and a casino. Besides, the investor wants to increase investment capital and adjust the construction schedule of the project. Notably, the total investment capital was proposed to be increased to $2.06 billion.

The MPI also proposed the prime minister to grant the investment registration certificate to the investor, although the project is developed by a domestic investor and so should not need an investment registration certificate.

On January 16, 2017, the prime minister signed Decree No.03/2017/ND-CP, which took effect on March 15, 2017, allowing locals to enter and play in casinos on a three-year trial basis.

Accordingly, an integrated resort and casino complex with Vingroup holding a 50 per cent stake in the southern island of Phu Quoc is set to be the first location in Vietnam to permit local people to gamble on its premises, contributing to the creation of a new multi-billion dollar industry in Vietnam, which has so far endured a turbulent path.

There are numerous hopeful gaming resorts in the works throughout Vietnam, but the government has so far only granted the go-ahead to the Phu Quoc complex. It is believed that the opening of the project in 2021 can eventually lead to others.

Electronic invoicing needs detailed guidelines

Fourteen months before electronic invoicing will be made mandatory in Viet Nam, which is set for November 1, 2020, there is still much work for the Government to do. Among the most crucial tasks to be completed is providing businesses with guidelines on how to issue and use e-invoices and across-the-board implementation among key State agencies such as the Tax Department, the State Treasury, the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance and insurers.

The absence of guidelines and lack of co-operation among State agencies have proven to be a major hurdle for business to completely switch to e-invoices. For example, while the tax authorities encourage business to switch to using e-invoices they may not be accepted at the State Treasury or by insurers, said BKAV head of corporate client department Nguyen Kho Din. The company is a leading Vietnamese firm in the field of cybersecurity, software and e-solutions for governments.

“Without guidelines, businesses currently have many questions over how to issue e-invoices, including small details such as what date to issue them, whose signature to include or whether it is necessary to include a signature,” Din said.

He said Government agencies must quickly lay down a roadmap with all the tasks for businesses to complete from now until 2020 to ensure a smooth implementation of e-invoices on a national scale.

It’s also more complicated to correct mistakes made in e-invoices compared to traditional paper invoices.

“Businesses used to just issue another invoice to replace one with mistakes. With e-invoices they will have to issue separate adjustments for each mistake made in the original,” said Nguyen Hoai Huong from the Defence Economic Technical Industry Corporation.

This, in turn, would create further problems for their customers when they need to file those in other transactions, she added.

Mac Quoc Anh, deputy director of the Ha Noi SME Association stressed the need to create a different policy for SMEs and traditional family businesses. He said such economic enterprises often faced severe financial and infrastructure limitations, which might make it very difficult for them to adopt e-invoices.

While experts had pointed out that e-invoices would help businesses significantly cut costs and speed up transactions, Anh said many SMEs would still need convincing to make the switch to using e-invoices. He urged for more effort to be put in raising awareness about e-invoices and their economic benefits among small business owners.

Navis Capital to divest from Hanoi French Hospital

Southeast Asia-focused private equity company Navis Capital Partners is looking to withdraw its investment from the Hanoi French Hospital.

Internal preparations for the exit have begun and Navis Capital has started sending out feelers to potential buyers of the Hanoi French Hospital (HFH), sources told DealStreetAsia.

The formal process of offloading Navis Capital’s shareholdings in HFH, a private hospital which has a medical team of French and Vietnamese doctors, is expected to be launched in early 2020.

Navis Capital had bought a stake in the Hanoi French Hospital (HFH) in June 2016 for an undisclosed sum from Australian company Indochina Medical Co. While the stake remains undisclosed, Navis Capital typically buys a controlling stake in its portfolio companies, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

HFH was founded in 1997 under the name "Vietnam International Hospital", a joint venture between IMB Australia, an Australian bank, and state-owned Bach Mai Hospital Vietnam.

In 2000 Eukaria S.A, a French company, bought out the entire share of the Australian partner, forming a sole French-Vietnamese joint-venture hospital, and subsequently renamed it Hopital Français de Hanoi.

The hospital currently employs over 50 full-time doctors, as per its website. It has around 75 beds and plans to increase the number to 150 beds by 2021, and is estimated to make $30 million in annual revenue, according to Nikkei.

According to a research published March 2018 by statistics firm Ken Research, Vietnam’s healthcare market has grown by an average of 10.8 percent per year between 2012-2017, and is expected to hit $18 billion in 2022.

Growth is driven by rising in healthcare expenditure, number of healthcare facilities, consumption of generic drugs and increased health insurance coverage.

The Vietnamese hospital sector’s growth, in particular, was driven by the government's encouragement of the private health care sector and liberal foreign investment policies, according to Ken Research.

The total number of public and private hospitals in Vietnam is expected to exceed 1,890 by 2022, compared to over 1,530 in 2017, the report said.

Da Nang seeks investment in IT Park

Authorities are seeking investment in the Da Nang Information Technology Park (DITP), focusing on four areas of software products, digital content products, IT services and hardware products and services.

The above areas were recently listed by the Da Nang People's Committee.

As for the production of software products, priority are given to attracting investment in DITP with software products related to system software, application software, software for programming development, utility software and information security software.

In terms of digital content products, the city will prioritise investment in e-learning products (e-books, electronic textbooks and e-lectures), electronic dictionaries, online dictionaries, electronic games on computers and mobile devices, and online games, among others.

In the field of IT services, the city expects to attract investment in consulting and design services, system administration, ICT human resource leasing, data processing and analysis, electronic business process outsourcing, information security monitoring and information security assessment.

For hardware products and services, it should be relevant to the technology of designing and manufacturing integrated circuits, design and manufacture of telecommunications technology equipment, and design, assembly and manufacture of audio-visual equipment.

The first phase of DITP was inaugurated in Da Nang City in March this year. It is the country’s largest centralised information technology centre, being built as the country's ‘Silicon Valley’ with total investment of US$120 million in two stages.

The park, invested and built by Trung Nam Group, will be open to its first investors from the second quarter of 2019 with the aim of creating more opportunities for IT investors flocking to the city by 2023.

It expects to create revenue of $1.5 billion each year with 25,000 jobs and a satellite city of 100,000 people.

Petrolimex profit up 11 per cent

The Viet Nam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) reported post-tax profits of VND2.4 trillion (US$102.6 million) in the first six months of the year, up by 11 per cent year-on-year and equivalent to 60 per cent of the entire year’s target.

The group achieved revenue of VND91.7 trillion in the period, down by 5 per cent year-on-year.

In the second quarter, the group earned nearly VND50 trillion in revenue, down 3 per cent year-on-year.

The cost of goods sold decreased further, so the group's gross profit dropped 12 per cent to VND3.5 trillion in the second quarter.

Selling expenses accounted for a large proportion of Petrolimex's total expenses, increasing from VND2 trillion to VND2.2 trillion.

After excluding all types of expenses, Petrolimex in the second quarter recorded profit after tax of VND1.25 trillion, down 3 per cent compared to the same period last year.

As of the end of June, Petrolimex's total assets had reached VND58 trillion, 3 per cent higher than the beginning of the year. Of the figure, cash and cash equivalents were VND9.6 trillion, down 3 per cent, and accounting for 17 per cent of total assets.

Short-term receivables stood at VND8.3 trillion, an increase of 11.4 per cent year-on-year, while inventories were VND10.8 trillion, up by 6 per cent year-on-year.

BE Group launches beExpress and beDelivery

The BE Group JSC, the owner and developer of the “be” app, officially announced the introduction of beExpress and beDelivery services on August 5.

beDelivery is a delivery service aimed at individual users, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and online businesses, with the existing beBike driver team to be given training in transport and related processes to ensure the highest quality of service.

For individual customers, beDelivery is the optimal choice with its quality drivers and delivery teams as well as stable prices. For SME customers or online businesses, it optimizes profits with competitive prices and superior delivery, lowering risk and cost.

beDelivery will continue to be developed in the future, with the launch of beKiosk - delivery stations that help optimize the delivery process.

beDelivery has already been meeting customer demand for goods delivery in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and customers in other cities and provinces such as Da Nang, Ba Ria Vung Tau, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and Can Tho will be able to use the service from August 15.

beExpress, meanwhile, is a delivery and postal service targeting e-commerce businesses and boasts professional, well-trained, and full-time delivery staff. It has already been selected by two major e-commerce partners: Lazada and Adayroi.

With beExpress and beDelivery, BE Group is gradually improving the technological ecosystem, from transport services (beBike and beCar) and freight forwarding (beExpress and beDelivery) to financial service (beFinancial). This is a testament to its ability to expand and share its ecosystem with businesses in different operations within the same value chain to bring the best products to customers and optimize businesses’ operations.

Mr. Tran Thanh Hai, General Director of BE Group, said the two new services will help it gradually improve the open technology ecosystem. “We expect that by 2020, BE’s delivery service will account for a 30 per cent market share in the domestic delivery market,” he said. “At the same time, our drivers will have the opportunity to increase their income by making the most of their free time and help them feel more secure when choosing this line of work.”

The “be” app has been downloaded on to 4 million mobile devices and has more than 40,000 drivers conducting about 300,000 trips per day. It has completed about 20 million beBike and beCar trips since last December.

Contact point established for German healthcare SMEs

Vietnam’s healthcare sector is estimated to stand at $10 billion by next year, an increase of 12.5 per cent since 2017, GIC/AHK Vietnam said in an announcement on August 6 in Ho Chi Minh City.

Demand among local healthcare centers for medical equipment is very high and Vietnam is also trying to promote the modernization of healthcare networks. Under government plans from 2016 to 2020, the country will invest about $32 billion in the modernization process.

Vietnam has cooperated with Germany in the healthcare field, including medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, imaging diagnostics technology, and laboratory equipment, digitalization, and training programs.

Germany is one of the most important suppliers in healthcare technology and medical equipment in Vietnam, worth $315 million annually. Eleven per cent of imported medical equipment and healthcare products are from Germany, according to GTAI Vietnam.

As such, the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy established a contact point in Vietnam in August that specializes in supporting German small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the healthcare industry within GIC/AHK Vietnam, assisting in market entry and business development in the country.

Approaching a new market of potential requires businesses prepare carefully and plan clearly. The contact point will provide information on economic policies and legal regulations in the healthcare sector as well as market prospects, including demand and the opportunities and challenges in industry to German SMEs in the field.

It also supports linking the government, ministries, and agencies in the healthcare sector and creates a connection network between businesses in the two countries. GIC/AHK Vietnam will organize German business delegations in the industry to Vietnam in order for potential partners to meet and will also conduct seminars and specialized healthcare workshops with the aim of establishing links, exchange experience, and improving cooperation between businesses from the two countries.

SonKim Land raises funds from investor consortium

Vietnamese developer the SonKim Land Corporation announced on August 2 it has successfully closed some $121 million in fundraising from an investor consortium led by EXS Capital, ACA Investments, and Credit Suisse AG, Singapore Branch.

This is a follow-up round of fundraising for SonKim Land, following a successful initial investment of some $37 million in 2013 and $46 million in 2016, all sponsored, advised, and led by EXS Capital.

SonKim Land is pleased to be partnering again with ACA Investments and the Lemongrass Master Fund (an entity managed by EXS Capital), both of whom have committed additional funds to this round of fundraising. This is now the second round of investment from ACA Investments and the third from the Lemongrass Master Fund.

“We are delighted to increase our investment in SonKim Land more than five times from the initial investment in 2016,” said Mr. Hiroyuki Ono, Partner at ACA Investments. “We are pleased to respond to their achievements by bringing more capital together with new investors like Credit Suisse. We continue to support SonKim Land and look forward to greater success.”

“We are pleased to sponsor this third round of investment in SonKim Land with additional investment from the Lemongrass Master Fund,” said Mr. Eric Solberg, CEO of EXS Capital. “As our partner since 2013, SonKim Land continues to deliver strong results and reinforce its reputation as one of Vietnam’s best real estate developers.”

SonKim Land is also working with other new investors in this fundraising round, including Skymont Capital, an Asia-based investment management group, as well as Credit Suisse, one of the most active global financial institutions in Vietnam.

“Credit Suisse is committed to serving the diverse financing needs of entrepreneurs and we are proud to play a role in supporting SonKim Land’s further growth as it fulfills its ambitions to be among Vietnam’s leading real estate investment and development companies,” said Mr. Rehan Anwer, Co-head of Southeast Asia and Frontier Markets Investment Banking & Capital Markets at Credit Suisse. “This transaction demonstrates continued international investor interest in Vietnam.”

“We look forward to working with SonKim Land as well as the co-investors to create exceptional value for all stakeholders in one of the fastest-growing markets in the region,” said Mr. Alex Lin, Managing Partner at Skymont Capital. “This investment exemplifies Skymont’s continued commitment to the region.”

Alongside these investors, Son Kim Investments, the parent company of SonKim Land, will also be participating in this fundraising round to continue fueling the company’s growth. The investor consortium and Son Kim Investments are investing through a combination of redeemable convertible loans and common equity.

With this latest round of fundraising, SonKim Land aims to continue developing its pipeline of attractive developments in Vietnam, including luxury residential, commercial, and hospitality developments in Ho Chi Minh City.

“The success of this $121 million in fundraising, with investments from prestigious international investors, marks a great milestone for SonKim Land,” said Mr. Nguyen Hoang Tuan, Chairman of SonKim Land. “We will continue to uphold our reputation as the pioneering luxury property developer in Vietnam as well as further expand our business in larger scale projects in the residential, commercial, and hospitality sectors.”

 
 
 
 
 
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