Oct 22, 2012

Vietnam - VinaCapital hooks up foreign investors

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Scores of heavy-weight foreign investors have been hooked up with opportunities in Vietnam thanks to VinaCapital’s annual investor conference.

“Our goal is to provide investors with an open dialogue surrounding the investment environment in Vietnam,” said Don Lam, CEO and co-founder of VinaCapital.

“Just one question they asked me: when will the Vietnamese economy become stable. The answer after one day of presentations and discussions is the Vietnamese economy is getting back on the track of stability,” he said.

Lam said investors would take a “wait-and-see attitude” until the beginning of 2013 to make investment decisions.

This year’s conference saw 75 investors roll up, against 50 last year.

“It has been a challenging past 12 months, but we still firmly believe in Vietnam’s long-term growth potential, one of which we feel is the best in the region,” said Lam, a frequent speaker at international investment seminars and featured as Vietnam’s “Mr. Wall Street” in Fortune magazine.

The two-day conference last week in Ho Chi Minh City included updates on Vietnam’s capital markets from Saigon Securities Inc’s director David Kadarauch, Vietnam’s real estate market by Savills Vietnam deputy managing director Troy Griffiths, Vietnam’s private equity market by Grant Thornton Vietnam senior manager Dung Trinh and on infrastructure by Asian Development Bank principal country specialist Yumiko Tamura.

To put VinaCapital’s performance into focus, its three London Stock Exchange-traded investment funds VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF), VinaLand (VNL) and Vietnam Infrastructure Limited (VNL) have a total of $1.5 billion in assets under management as of September 2012.

VinaCapital’s managing director Andy Ho said over the past year, VOF invested in listed companies, Military Bank and Dabaco Vietnam that manufactures and trades cattle food, veterinary medicine, insecticides, and other agricultural products. VOF currently manages $725 million.

Ho added VOF had withdrawn capital from Indochina Food, a major sugar company with facilities in Cambodia, after more than three years’ investment because it sold stakes “at a good price”. He said profit from this investment was a two-fold increase and VOF withdrew capital for other investments.

During 2012-2013, VOF continues to invest in listed companies, and work with foreign companies to buy into Vietnamese companies where foreign investors have an interest.

As for VinaLand its Azura Tower, part of the World Trade Center project in central Danang city, was completed with the first phase of handovers taking place in 2012’s second quarter.

Ho said VinaLand currently had investments in 36 property projects and would continue these investments, but not make new ones.

Lam said VinaLand was focusing on garden housing, with its affiliate VinaLiving responsible for the segment “because VinaLiving has already established its brand in this section.”

Over the past year, Vietnam Infrastructure Limited (VNI) invested $13 million, increasing its stake in VNC-55 Infrastructure Investment, a base transceiver station specialist. Combing this investment with VNI’s previous investments in Global Infrastructure Investment, Mobile Infrastructure Development Company and Mobile Information Services, it now owns approximately 2,000 existing BTSs nationwide.

Earlier this month, VinaWealth Fund Management - 49 per cent owned by VinaCapital, gave Standard Chartered Vietnam the thumbs up to be the custodian for its first private employee benefit fund, a newly-established open-ended fund.

Tuong Thuy | vir.com.vn

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