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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 16/3   2009-03-16 - VietNamNet/VNA, TN

HCM City attracts 25.6 billion USD in FDI

Ho Chi Minh City has so far attracted 3,128 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, worth 25.6 billion USD in total, said the municipal Planning and Investment Department.

The FDI projects have disbursed more than 10.14 billion USD, accounting for nearly 40 percent of their total registered investment.

Complicated administrative procedures have been blamed for the slow FDI disbursement.

The city plans to attract FDI in mechanics and chemicals; electricity, electronics and information technology; finance and banking; and realty sectors in the coming years.

Planes out of action in upgrade

National flag carrier VietnamAirlines will suspend the operation of a number of its aircraft between June 2009 and January 2010, general director Pham Ngoc Minh has announced.

However, the suspension will not affect the carrier’s services because it will receive a number of new aircraft in the near future, he told the Vietnam New Agency.

Minh said the carrier is looking to upgrade and expand its fleet, and that the suspension was part of the process.

He added this was an opportunity for VietnamAirlines to refurbish the interiors and conduct maintenance and upgrade of equipment of its existing fleet.

VietnamAirlines has ordered 39 new aircraft including Boeing 787-9s, Airbus A350-900s, and A321s.

Between June 2009 and May 2010, the carrier will replace its ATR72-200s with 14 modern ATR72-500s.

The carrier’s fleet is expected to comprise 104 units of aircraft by 2015 and 150 by 2010.

In the second half of last year VietnamAirlines had 48 units of aircraft, including 10 Airbus A320-200s, 13 Airbus A321s, 3 Airbus A330s, and 10 boeing 777-200 ERs.

Gold goes up as int’l prices set the trend

SJC, Vietnam’s biggest gold trader, said on its website that its gold price jumped by VND70,000 to VND19.54 million (US$1,118) a tael, or $931.4 per ounce.

Domestic gold keeps tracking the international price, Huynh Trung Khanh, a Vietnamese consultant for the World Gold Council, told Thanh Nien Daily, anticipating that Vietnamese gold will continue its upward trend this week.

“Vietnamese gold prices have come close to international price since the government allowed some companies to export gold,” Cao Thi Ngoc Dung, general director of Phu Nhuan Jewelry Joint Stock Co., told the Dau Tu Chung Khoan newspaper.

Dung also expected gold prices will continue to rise as the US’s economic outlook remains gloomy and investors consider gold as the safest haven for now.

International gold

Investment in the SPDR Gold Trust, the biggest exchange-traded fund backed by bullion, has risen 33 percent this year to a record 1,041.53 metric tons, according to Bloomberg.

Since the second quarter of 2007, banks worldwide have posted more than $1.2 trillion in credit losses and writedowns. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has dropped 17 percent this year while gold has gained 5.2 percent.

“Gold continues to resist any sustained decline, bouncing back quickly from any minor sell offs,” said Adrian Day, president of Adrian Day’s Asset Management in Annapolis, Maryland.

“The fly in the ointment could be a sustained and strong, broad global stock-market rally which would calm some investors’ fears. There is little prospect of this on more than a short-term basis in my view, so we continue to be buyers on any dips.”

Gold futures for April delivery on Friday rose $6.10, or 0.7 percent, to $930.10 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The SPDR Gold Trust’s holdings surpassed Switzerland’s Thursday, making the ETF the sixth-largest holder of bullion, based on data from the producer-funded World Gold Council. The US has the world’s largest gold reserves.

An Binh Bank Jan-Feb net doubles

An Binh Bank, 15 percent owned by Malaysia's top lender Maybank, said Wednesday its January-February net profit more than doubled to VND52 billion (US$3 million).

Partly-private An Binh Bank (ABBank) made a net profit of VND23 billion in the first two months of last year, a spokeswoman for the Ho Chi Minh City-based lender said.

In 2009, the bank plans to further expand its network to nearly 70 branches in 28 of Vietnam's 64 provinces, the lender said in a separate statement.

ABBank had reported a slump in gross profit last year to VND70.2 billion, well below a forecast VND465 billion, due to high operating costs and losses from trading foreign currencies and securities.

For this year, the lender has forecast gross profit to rise to VND400 billion.

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