VietNamNet Bridge – “I like sipping my happiness quietly by myself,” has become the well-known words of Pham Nhat Vuong, the only Vietnamese businessman named in the Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires. “Silence is golden” proves to be a suitable saying when talking about Vuong.

First Vietnamese billionaire on Forbes list

Pham Nhat Vuong still has entered the Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires with the total asset of $1.5 billion, even though the Vietnamese real estate market keeps frozen, thus making the assets of many other real estate developers “evaporate.”

Mr Pham Nhat Vuong

The majority of the Vuong’s assets of $1.5 billion come from the 53 percent of the stakes being held by Vuong in Vingroup, a real estate group.

2012 was a tough year for real estate developers, when a lot of projects were unimplemented due to the lack of capital, a lot of finished products left unsold due to the weak demand.

However, the audited finance report of Vingroup, whose biggest source of income was from real estate projects, still showed satisfactory business results. It got the record turnover of VND7,904 billion, a sharp increase of 242 percent in comparison with 2011.

And the great success of Vingroup was one of the reasons that put Vuong into the list of the world’s billionaires.

A lot of questions have been raised after the Forbes released the list of the world’s billionaires with the name “Pham Nhat Vuong”. What trade secret Vuong applied to “swim against the market current to make profit in the context of the gloomy market? Is the real estate market really so miserable for real estate developers, and is it true that the developers need to be rescued?

In late January 2013, an online newspaper published a report by the Ministry of Construction about the business performance of construction and real estate enterprises under the ministry in 2012.

The report showed that by December 31, 2012, Vietnam had had 52,746 operational construction enterprises (the figure was 42,197 in 2011). 15,925 enterprises registered their business in 2012, an increase of 22 percent over 2011, while 1,103 real estate firms were newly set up, down by 3.3 percent over 2011.

However, the report showed that most construction businesses still made profit (42,197 businesses, or 80 percent of the total). Meanwhile, 15,926 businesses reported loss.

The information was then corrected by the Ministry of Construction--Do Duc Duy, who denied the fact that 80 percent of real estate firms made profit in 2012. He also said that 9,451 out of the 48,753 businesses in 2010 took loss (19.4 percent). Meanwhile, the figures were 14,998/48,733 (30.8 percent) in 2011 and 17,000/55,870 (30.4 percent) in 2012.

Duy also said that the finance reports which showed the figures were not the audited ones; therefore, they do not truly reflect the actual situation of the enterprises in the construction sector.

Nevertheless, Prof Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, frankly said that real estate firms still can make profit.

“Real estate firms now cannot make fat profits as they did in the past. But they don’t take loss. They just complain to claim for preferences,” Vo said.

The story about Vuong published on Forbes said that the Vincom Center A opening ceremony was very imposing, but the 44-year-old billionaire did not drink any glass of champagne, or cut the opening ribbon and deliver speech. He just kept quiet at the ceremony.