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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 28/7   2009-07-28 - VNA

10 local firms named in Top 500 regional retailers

 
Ten Vietnamese businesses have been listed in the Retail Asia-Pacific Top 500 by the Retail Asia Magazine.

These include the Saigon Jewelry Holding Company (SJC), which posted revenues of 4.5 trillion VND (257 million USD) last year; the Phu Nhuan Jewelry Company (PNJ) with a turnover of 3.91 trillion VND (223.7 million USD); and the Saigon Commercial Cooperative Union (Saigon Co.op), 3.88 trillion VND (221.8 million USD).

The others are Nguyen Kim Trade Centre, Big C Supermarket, Parkson Supermarket, G7mart chains, Diamond plaza, Best Carings chains and Fahara book stores.

The annual awards, beginning in 2004, honour 500 top performing retailers in 14 regional economies, namely Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Big domestic energy groups hook up

The country’s National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and the National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) signed a strategic cooperation agreement in Hanoi on July 28.

Under the agreement, both parties are committed to working closer with each other in their respective fields, particularly in energy. They agreed to exchange and share geological information about any coalfields that are discovered during exploration for oil in the Red River delta.

They will also cooperate in building an ammonium nitrate plant using gas provided by PetroVietnam to serve Vinacomin’s mining operations, as well as in developing infrastructure projects and also in real estate and finance.

On addressing the signing ceremony, PetroVietnam’s General Director Phung Dinh Thuc said that cooperation between the two groups would help boost and secure the country’s energy industry.

He said that both groups would soon start a number of important projects to research coal and gas reserves in the Red River delta basin, invest in mining for coal overseas and set up a joint stock company to import and ship coal from abroad to Vietnam to supply domestic thermo-electric power plants.

According to Vinacomin’s Chairman Doan Van Kien, the Red River Delta basin has estimated reserves of 210 billion tonnes of coal, discovered during the oil and gas exploration operations.

He said the coal reserves, that span from the continental shelf to the Nam Con Son oil field, could yield thousands of billions of tonnes.

The alliance between these two giants in natural minerals exploration and exploitation will bring huge benefits to both groups as well as the country, said Kien.

At present, coal supplies for domestic thermo-electric power plants are now an issue of concern as Vinacomin forecasts Vietnam will have to import coal from 2012.

Almost 130 Thai businesses to exhibit in Vietnam

Almost 130 Thai businesses and their sales representatives will take part in an exposition of Thailand’s products, scheduled to be held in Hanoi from August 6-9.

The businesses will display their products, which are popular with Vietnamese consumers, including motorbikes, bicycles, electric and electronic appliances, fruit and vegetables, foodstuffs, cosmetics, handicrafts, garments and textiles, and medical equipment.

Speaking to the media in Hanoi on July 28, Charge d’Affaires at the Thai Embassy Tawatchai Koopirom praised the development of bilateral trade between the two countries in recent years, saying that the exhibition aims to promote Thai products and help Thai businessmen to penetrate further into the Vietnamese market as well as to seek out opportunities to do business with Vietnamese partners.

During the expo, the Thai Administration of Tourism will hold a fair to spotlight Thai tourism which will help to boost trade, investment and tourism between the two countries.

The diplomat confirmed that the Thai government will always its encourage businesses to invest in Vietnam.

According to Tawatchai Koopirom, Vietnam should inject more investment into its infrastructure to attract investors.

The Thai exhibition has been held every year from 2001 by the Vietnam Advertising and Trade Fair Joint Stock Company in collaboration with the Thai Embassy in Vietnam . The event always attract a large number of local visitors.

Vietnam and Thailand have seen an increase in trade since they officially set up trade ties in 1988. Two-way trade reached 5 billion USD in 2008 and both countries are striving to reach 10 billion USD by 2010.

Standard Chartered: Government fiscal stimulus package boosts economy

Vietnam’s government fiscal stimulus is having a positive impact on the economy, especially in light of the fact that 2009 is considered a year of great challenges, the Standard Chartered Bank’s analyst Tai Hui has said.

The impacts can be seen clearly as a number of sectors in the economy are showing signs of outperforming expectations, such as construction, transportation and communications, financial intermediation, and retail and wholesale trade.

“Several structural factors will drive the country’s development, some of which will remain in place even at a time of weak growth in the advanced economies”, head of the Southeast Asia Research Department Tai Hui said in a report released early this month.

Furthermore, the country’s trade deficit in the first six months of the year stood modestly at 2.1 billion USD against 14.2 billion USD recorded last year in the same period, he said and attributed this to the smooth operation of Vietnam’s first oil refinery at Dung Quat Bay, helping to reduce imports of refined petroleum products - a significant contributor to last year’s trade deficit.

The analyst kept his opinions unchanged on the medium-term outlook for Vietnam although there are still great challenges for the domestic and regional economy ahead.

Tai Hui projected that the government is expected to run a sizeable deficit, approaching 10 percent of the GDP in 2009, as a result of fiscal measures to drive the economy, including an extension of the personal income tax payment deadline, interest subsidies for bank lending, and government spending on infrastructure projects.

He also affirmed that inflows of overseas remittances and foreign direct investment (FDI) will continue to slow on the back of weaker global growth till by the end of the year.

A crucial hurdle Vietnam faces in the coming years, highlighted in the report by Standard Chartered, was infrastructure which, according to Tai Hui, is unlikely to be sufficient to accommodate rapid growth or supply chain management.

Vietnam’s economy grew 3.9 percent in the first half of the year and according to Standard Chartered’s calculations, domestic demand is gaining momentum, while export performance remains lacklustre. Exports contracted by 10 percent year-on-year in the period and the weakening of industrial production continued, but retail sales are still a strong point in the economy.

Vietinbank to collect import-export taxes

The Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank) will be entrusted to collect taxes, fees and other charges for the State relating to import-export activities.

The assignment is part of an agreement signed in Hanoi on July 27 with the State Treasury and the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

The Chairman of Vietinbank’s Board of Directors, Pham Huy Hung, said that this is expected to create better conditions for enterprises to make tax payments quicker, speed up customs clearance times and help to raise the efficiency of the State budget’s management.

It will also hasten the modernisation of these sectors, as well as implement the government’s goal to introduce non-cash payments across the board, he said.

In 2009, Vietinbank will conduct import-export tax collections in the northern port city of Hai Phong , then extend this to other localities such as Quang Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Khanh Hoa, Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City.

The bank plans to carry out import-export tax collections across the country by 2010.

Beforehand, Vietinbank, the State Treasury and the General Department of Vietnam Customs had been fairly successful in collecting domestic taxes at the bank’s branches.

As one of Vietnam’s leading commercial banks, with 150 branches and 800 transaction offices in 56 cities and provinces, Vietinbank has been regarded as one of the country’s key banks, providing a diverse range of modern and high-quality banking products and services.

Mergers and acquisitions in banking sector to increase

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the financial and banking sector will certainly thrive when Vietnam totally opens up its financial markets after 2010, a banking official has said.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank), Pham Huy Hung, said that the State Bank of Vietnam demands that all joint stock commercial banks must have a chartered capital of at least 3 trillion VND by 2010 and this will put a lot of pressure on domestic credit organisations and encourage them to sell more shares to increase their chartered capital.

In addition, a number of foreign financial institutions are trying to penetrate Vietnam ’s financial market by placing their capital in local banks to aid their long-term development plans.

According to Hung, the involvement of big economic groups or organisations in the banking sector will also affect M&A. The strategic cooperation between the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group and the Southeast Asia Bank; the Vietnam Navigation Group, the Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group and the Vietnam Maritime Commercial Stock Bank; and FPT and MobiFone and the Tien Phong Bank is considered the beginning of many M&A.

Having noted that M&A are the quickest way to expand market share, Hung said that Vietinbank is choosing foreign strategic shareholders. The newly-equitised bank, which is listing on the southern stock exchange, has received a lot of attention from a number of the world’s big financial institutions, including the US-based Wells Fargo, France’s Banque Populaire, Germany’s Commerzbank and Japan’s Mizuho Bank.

Ten foreign banks have now entered into deals with local banks. HSBC holds 20 percent of Techcombank, Malaysia’s Maybank bought 15 percent of the An Binh Bank (ABBank) and Singapore’s Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) holds 15 percent of the Vietnam Commercial Bank for Private Enterprises (VP Bank).

In the meantime, a number of foreign banks are keen to up their ownership of Vietnam’s financial organisations as they see good long-term development prospects in the nation of 86 million people. The HSBC wants to increase its stake from 10 percent to 18 percent at the Bao Viet while Maybank wants to raise its stake from 15 percent to 20 percent.

Financial experts say that local banks should have good M&A strategies to increase their M&A operations to raise their competitiveness and expand their market share.



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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 27/7   2009-07-27