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Who is the real richest Vietnamese?   2011-01-06 - Thoi bao Kinh te Vietnam

Some days ago, businessman Dao Hong Tuyen, who has been well known in Vietnam as the “King of Tuan Chau island” stated on a local newspaper that his total assets now have the value of two billion dollar. The information has immediately caught public, because Vietnamese people always hesitate to talk about their wealth in public.


Tuyen said that he is the owner of 14 companies and 34 factories and is holding the assets worth two billion dollars. The “know-how” that helps him become rich is that he “never does what other people did already”, while he only “does what other people do not do, or other people think of, but they cannot do”.


The fact that a businessman appears on mass media and reveals the information about his assets is an unprecedented thing in Vietnam. Tuyen’s statement surprised the public. the aim of the statement remains unclear, but local newspapers have commented that this is really a noteworthy event, especially at the time, when Vietnam commemorates the 10th anniversary of the promulgation of the Enterprise Law, the legal document that paved the way for the establishment and development of private businesses – which made the appearance of Vietnamese billionaires possible.


It is clear that Tuyen has not been recognized in the world as the richest Vietnamese person. To date, the US Forbes journal remains the most prestigious reference source about the richest persons in the world. Of course, the magazine does not rank people based on the statements of individuals, but on the reliable figures it has . The most important assets of the billionaires are the shares held by the individuals and other kinds of assets.


As the 2011’s ranking has not been released, the 2010’s ranking has still been considered as a good reference source. According to Forbes, in 2010, the world has 1011 billionaires who held the total assets worth 3.6 trillion dollars.


Of these billionaires, 234 billionaires lived in Asia Pacific, a sharp increase from 130 billionaires recorded in 2009. There was no Vietnamese name among these 234 billionaires.


In an effort to provide more information about rich Vietnamese people, some local newspapers recently have been trying to release the lists of richest stock millionaires annually after considering the volumes of stocks they held. In 2010, 13 people were found as having the total asset value of more than one trillion dong. Especially, Pham Nhat Vuong, the owner of Vinpearl and Vincom, and Doan Nguyen Duc, Chair of Hoang Anh Gia Lai, have more than 10 trillion dong.


However, the assets owned by Vuong (15,776 billion dong) and Duc (11,879 billion dong) are still far below one billion dollar (the exchange rate now is nearly 21,000 dong per dollar). Besides, local newspapers can  only calculate the value of shares people are holding, while they cannot find the information about other types of assets.


Does Vietnam have dollar billionaires? People believe that the answer would be “yes”. However, for many reasons, the real billionaires remain hidden.


In 2003, in one of its reports, the World Bank said that the “underground economy” made up to 50 percent of Vietnam’s GDP. where the underground economy played an important role and the asset  declaration was not compulsory, it was understandable why people with the assets of billions dollars were not known.


Tuyen’s statement about his assets has been described by local newspapers as a “brave action”, no matter if he really has two billion dollars and if this can be recognized by Forbes. While other businessmen remain hesitant about revealing their assets, Tuyen decided to make public the information and he is proud of his achievements.


Tuyen also caught public attention when he recently announced that he would like to give Vietnamese Mathematics Professor Ngo Bao Chau, who has won the Fields Medal, a luxury apartment as a gift. However, Chau has refused the gift, saying that he does not want to receive gifts from individuals.


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