BUSINESS IN BRIEF 14/4

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Vietinbank sells off loads of shares



Vietinbank (CTG) announced it had finished issuing nearly 598.8 million shares to increase its charter capital to VND26.2 trillion (US$1.2 billion) from VND20.2 trillion ($961.9 million).

Around 80.3 per cent of the shares were sold to State shareholders. Funding for the issuance was raised from undistributed profit last year and capital surplus.

The bank has decided to list more than 117.9 million shares, which were issued to non-state shareholders.

Companies fined for disclosure violations

Six listed firms were fined for violating disclosure regulations this week, the State Securities Commission reported.

Construction firm Chi Linh (MCL), Yen Bai Cement and Minerals (YBC), Cavico Manpower Services (CMS), Drilling Mud Corp (PVC) and Huu Nghi Vinh Sinh Mining and Mechanic (MAX) were fined VND60-70 million (US$2,800-3,000) each for failing to release financial statements on time. Property developer Idico Petroleum (PXL) was fined VND40 million ($1,900) for failing to buy back 1 million shares as it had previously registered.

Firm announces plans to delist in capital

Quang Nam Post – Telecoms Construction and Services company (QCC) anounced it would delist from the Ha Noi Stock Exchange during its recent annual shareholder meeting. The decision comes following a warning issued by the exchange on March 26 after the company posted losses for a second successive year.

Undistributed net profit as of April 6 was VND1 billion (US$47,600) in the red, while the company's equity as of last year was only VND20.58 billion (less than $1 million).

Regarding this year's targets, QCC aims to reach VND20 billion ($950,000) in revenue and VND1.5 billion ($71,400) in net profit. Dividends are expected to be paid at around 3-5 per cent.

Hertz targets outbound car rentals

The Hertz Corporation, the world's largest general use car rental company, has appointed Indo Trans Logistics (ITL), a logistics, transportation and aviation services provider, as its general sales agent representative for international and business travellers from Viet Nam.

Through this partnership, travellers from Viet Nam can benefit from direct booking through ITL to reserve Hertz cars from more than 8,500 locations worldwide.-

Vietnamese firms eye Chinese market

The Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency's HCM City office is organising a trip for Vietnamese businesses to participate in the China (Nanning) International Household Furniture Fair and International Mahogany Furniture, Woodcarving Collectibles Exhibition, to be held from April 20 to 23.

Businesses registering to participate in the fair through the agency will get a fee discount.

The fair offers Vietnamese firms a chance to meet and find partners and buyers as well as catch up with current international furniture market trends.

Agricultural fair opens in Mekong

Eighty five Cambodian and Vietnamese companies are taking part in an agricultural fair which opened in Long Binh town on the Cambodian border on Monday .

The 2012 Khanh Binh Border Gate Fair, organised by the International Fair and Rural Development Corp, has 120 stalls, displaying and selling farm equipment and produce, processed food, seeds and saplings, electrical goods, garments, interior decoration items, and others.

The fair is also aimed at helping Vietnamese and Cambodian businesses explore business opportunities, the organisers said.-

Bank offers free services to help firms

The HCM City Housing Development Commercial Joint Stock Bank (HDBank) is offering several free services to enterprises in an attempt to help them cut costs and concentrate their capital on production.

From April 10, cash and cheque transactions, transfers, domestic collections, Letter of Credit (L/C) declarations, cable charges, account services and international payments are all being provided free of charge.

The free services are available to enterprises that have opened accounts with the HDBank.

Vietnam Airlines aims to expand fleet

Vietnam Airlines has asked for 64 more aircraft than it originally requested in its development plan last year, more than doubling its fleet over the next eight years.

The airline cited enhanced expansion plans in Asia, Europe, the Pacific and Atlantic, an airline source said yesterday.

Under the new proposal sent to the Ministry of Transport, the airline wants to increase its fleet from its present 75 aircraft to 112 aircraft by 2015 and 171 by 2020.

Last year, PM Nguyen Tan Dung approved a fleet plan of 85 aircraft by 2015 and 107 by 2020.

Vietnam Airlines said it asked for the plan to be revised to expand its routes, both domestic and international.

The airline said it wanted to exploit routes to Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, expand flights in Asia and open new routes in Europe and across the Pacific and Atlantic.

At present, the Vietnam Airlines' fleet of 75 aircraft serve 47 international and 38 domestic routes.-

Imported bus parts enjoy tax holiday

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh agreed to an import tax exemption for spare bus parts and accessories that can not be produced by the local market, the Government website reported on Wednesday.

The exemption is part of a programme on public transportation investment and development aimed at buses in Ha Noi and HCM City.

Ninh stressed that the exemption would only be applied for bus production projects and would need to be ratified by relevant authorities. In addition, the time to implement projects as well as the quantity, quality, categories and value of imported spare parts and accessories needed to be clearly defined.

The Ministry of Transport, in co-operation with the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Finance, and the People's Committees of Ha Noi and HCM City, will take responsibility for issuing specific guidelines to enterprises.-

Mong Cai all set for border gate trade zone

The Government has signed a decision to establish the Mong Cai border gate economic zone in the north-eastern province of Quang Ninh.

The 121,197 ha zone, bordering China's Guang Xi Province to the north and the East Sea to the east, includes 66,197 ha of land and 55,000 ha of sea.

The free trade and duty free zone will feature modern international border gates, industrial zones, financial centres and residential areas.

It will include Mong Cai City, Hai Ha Industrial Zone and seaport, Quang Ha Town and a number of wards, districts and communes.

Mong Cai border gate with China is reportedly among one of the busiest in the country, handling about $16 billion worth of exports in the past five years.

It handles about 3.2 million tonnes of goods on average annually and is targeting export growth of 25 per cent per per year.

EU tightens control on Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports

Nguyen Xuan Hong, head of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has warned that nearly 100 Vietnamese businesses should strengthen inspection on food safety and hygiene before exporting to the EU market.

The EU will issue a ban on importing fruit and vegetables from Vietnam if another five cases of regulations on food safety and plant quarantine are detected violation after January 15, according to the EU Commission’s Health and Consumers Department.

The department said since March, the EU has detected two cases of violations. If this happens again, Vietnam’s fruits and vegetables will lose ground in both EU and international markets.

As strict requirements may lead to a ban on Vietnam’s fruit and vegetables imports, the Plant Protection Department has stopped granting quarantine certificates to control the quality of exports to the demanding market.

Tourism revenue hit nearly US$2 billion in Q1

Vietnam received nearly 1.9 million foreigners and 9.6 million domestic visitors in the first quarter of this year, earning nearly US$2 billion from tourism services.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) said as a result of promoting tourism products, developing trademarks, improving infrastructure at tourism sites and diversifying entertainment services, Vietnam’s tourism is becoming more and more attractive to visitors.

Since early this year, a lot of traditional festivals have been held across the country, with more hotels and motels providing better services for tourists.

One factor behind this success is that the MCST has closely monitored the organization of festivals at 58 relic sites in 17 provinces and cities.

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) plans to build standard toilets at 50 percent of tourism sites in 2012 and complete the project for the whole country by 2014.

Vietnam, Uzbekistan strengthen cooperation in agriculture

A delegation of the Uzbekistan-Vietnam Friendship Association paid a working visit to the northern province of Bac Ninh on April 11-12 to seek cooperative opportunities in agriculture.

The delegation signed a cooperative agreement on aquaculture with the local Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Vice President of the Uzbekistan-Vietnam Friendship Association, S.Sultanov, said he was very impressed by aquaculture models in Gia Binh and Thuan Thanh districts.

Under the signed agreement, the Syrdarya provincial authorities will provide necessary water surface and other favourable conditions for Vietnam’s labourers and investors from Bac Ninh province to carry out a joint venture of cooperation in the field of aquaculture.

Entrepreneurs receive Lao Friendship Orders

Lao Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sousilih has awarded two Vietnamese businesspeople with the Lao Friendship Order for their contributions to the country’s socio-economic development.

They are Le Van Kiem, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Tran Cam Nhung, CEO of the Long Thanh-Vientiane special economic zone.

Speaking at the awards ceremony in Vientiane on April 11 Mr. Sousilih praised them for their financial support worth nearly US$5 million in total.

Chairman Kiem recently donated US$216,000 to Japan’s earthquake and tsunami victims in response to the Lao Government’s appeal to foreign investors in the country.

He said he was very grateful to the Lao State for having created favourable conditions for the Long Thanh-Vientiane special economic zone to develop and would do more social and charitable work in Laos.

Mong Cai border gate economic zone to take shape soon

The Prime Minister has agreed on establishing the Mong Cai border gate economic zone, which covers 121,197 hectares in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

The zone, including all 17 wards of Mong Cai city and natural land, will be operated in line with the investment law and related documents.

His decision will take effect as from June 1, 2012.

High-tech products to account for 45pct of GDP by 2020

Science and technology have significantly contributed to promoting the restructuring and growth of the national economy and the rising value of high-tech products will account for 45 percent of GDP by 2020.

This is projected in a scientific and technological development strategy in the 2011-2020 period recently approved by the Prime Minister.

According to the strategy, the value of transactions in the scientific and technological market will increase by 15-17 percent annually.

By 2015, there will be 9 – 10 scientific and technological researchers among 10,000 people. Around 5,000 engineers will be trained by international standards to manage high-tech production lines in key sectors.

By 2020, 60 scientific and technological research and application organizations will be formed by regional and international standards. While 60 training establishments and 5,000 businesses in this field will be also established.

The strategy aims to restructure the national scientific and technological development system and encourage state-owned organizations to be self-responsible for their own operations.

Breakthrough in the export of agricultural products

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is working out a processing industry development strategy to increase the added value of agricultural products from 50 percent at present to 70 percent by 2020.

Agricultural, forestry, aquatic exports fetch nearly US$5.9 billion

Despite achieving annual export earnings of US$25 billion, most of Vietnamese farm products are coarsely processed and sold at low prices.

The processing industry is a key sector that needs more investment, especially in the private sector to increase the value of agricultural products. With as many as 1,500,000 hectares left for growing fruit and vegetables, Vietnam must have been a strong producer and exporter of fruit and vegetables. However, it annually earns only US$500-600 million in export turnover

The country now has approximately 60 State-owed fruit and vegetables processing plants and smaller private-owned establishments using outdated technologies.

According to the Department of Agro-Forestry-Fishery Product Processing and Salt Industry, the total capacity for fruit and vegetables processing and packaging is just 300,000 tons per year since the appliance of processing technology is not the same in different regions.

The Head of the Planning Department under the MARD, Trang Hieu Dung, says the agricultural sector will focus on improving post-harvest processing process to raise the added valued of farm products in the near future.

The coffee sector is expected to increase the proportion of processed coffee from 20 percent in 2010 to 40 percent by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020. The sector will also increase the capacity for instant coffee processing from 10,000 tons (1 percent) to 25,000 tonnes (2.5 percent) by 2015 and 50,000 (5 percent) by 2020 and roasted and ground coffee from 10 percent by 2015 to 20 percent by 2020.

The added value of rice exports is expected to rise 15 percent by 2015 and 25 percent by 2020.

The MARD aims to renew processing technologies to boost rubber exports. It has set a target of raising the capacity for rubber latex processing by 500,000 tons in 2020.

The ministry will also prime the pump in the pepper industry to upgrade at least 14 processing plants to improve product quality and safety. The capacity for white pepper and powdered pepper processing will rise 30 percent and 25 percent, respectively by 2020.

The fruit and vegetables sector will focus on increasing the capacity and operational efficiency of plants processing high-quality products such as frozen, canned and fried fruit and vegetables, natural condensed juices.

The processing sector which accounts for 85 percent of the total seafood export volume is expected to make a breakthrough in export business by increasing the proportion of instant products to replace coarsely processed products.

The sector will invest more in renewing technology and abide by international production standards such as ISO and hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) to raise the added value of export products to 70 percent by 2020.

For the forestry sector, the ministry will re-organise the wood processing industry to balance the production capacity and material supplying sources.

In addition, more industrial parks will be built to help raise the total wood processing capacity to 6 million m3/year.

Supporting homebuyers a lifebuoy to realty market

Offering homebuyers preferential loans is considered a solution to remove the current difficulties of the property market and improve the market liquidity.

This was given at the dialogue between property firms and members of the National Financial Supervisory Commission organized by the HCMC Real Estate Association (HoREA) in HCMC on Wednesday.

Vu Anh Tam, general director of Tai Nguyen Construction, Manufacture and Trading Company, said the local property market has been plunging in the last four years as trading moves flat in all segments and project owners are struggling with unsold products.

Given the sluggish liquidly of the market, no bank wants to give out loans to property firms, said Tam.

He stated the key point is to bring homebuyers to the market, through providing them with soft loans to buy houses. When the realty market turns rosy, construction, cement and steel sectors will also enjoy benefits.

Dang Hoang Vu, general director of Thanh Binh Real Estate Trading Co., shared Tam’s view, saying instead of pouring capital into enterprises, the State should adopt policies to directly assist homebuyers.

Tran Dinh Thien, director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics, wondered if the Government is capable of saving the troubled property market. He described the rescue as an art to inject an amount of money enough to stimulate the market.

With the latest move of the central bank, credit for property will be loosened. Particularly, property credit will be further extended with loans for all purposes such as buying houses to live or as an investment, and property development.

Meanwhile, instead of giving loans to realty firms to finalize their projects, the banks choose to offer loans with supporting interest rates to homebuyers.

ANZ Vietnam has slashed the lending rate to 15.5% a year for customers borrowing more than VND500 million to purchase houses. Compared to last month, the interest rate of home loans has dwindled two percentage points.

Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) has also announced to use VND1 trillion as home loans with the interest rate of 18-19% per annum. Most lately, following the central bank’s decision to pull down the deposit rate cap to 12%, HSBC Bank has reduced the lending rate for house and car buyers by one percentage point, or to 17%.

Trinh Van Tuan, general director of Orient Commercial Bank (OCB), said supporting homebuyers is the safest way to revive the property market at present, since lenders often choose customers with stable income and proven repayment ability to give out loans. On the other hand, providing more loans to property developers is risky as it is unknown when the market will warm up.

Storm drives firms to rocks

Firms suffered a potentially disastrous first quarter in 2012. More than 2,400 firms dissolved in the quarter, reported the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Business Registration Management Department.

Over 3,800 firms had their licences withdrawn and 11,600 firms registered for a temporarily halt to production or delays to tax payments.

Topping the list of dismantled firms were retail and wholesale businesses.

Ranking second were industrial and mining firms, which accounted for 15.05 per cent of dissolved firms, followed by construction and property firms at 10.54 per cent and transport-warehousing firms at 10.09 per cent.

Firms operating in science, technology and education areas occupied 8.2 per cent of firms going bust.

Consumer goods and services sectors were all hurt when consumers cut expenses, according to Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs Association chairman Mai Huu Tin.

Tin once forecast retail would be one of most profitable businesses this year.

“Firms have tried their best - cutting costs, curtailing production or operation and divesting from non-core areas,” said Tin. High borrowing costs, strong competition from imports, smuggled goods and low consumption all hurt firms.

In fact, diverse solution packages were launched to rescue firms ranging from tax extensions, postponements to easing lending rates.

Vietnam Institute of Economics president Tran Dinh Thien said: “Many firms incurred bad debts, so they cannot borrow more. Besides, getting loans makes no sense if firms cannot sell products.”

Thien proposed the government weigh up a tax reduction and exemption instead of just delaying tax payments.

“Firms also need time to heal themselves. Banks could restructure debts or extending debt repayments for firms,” said Tin.

City to boost ‘Be Vietnamese Buy Vietnamese’ campaign

The National Steering Committee for the ‘Be Vietnamese Buy Vietnamese’ campaign met on April 11 to discuss implementation of the campaign in 2012 and find ways to encourage Vietnamese people to buy more domestically made products.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, Party Central Committee member and Deputy Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, presided over the meeting.

The committee intends to continue to popularise the campaign as per Party Politburo guidelines and advise provincial Party Committees on its implementation.

At the meeting on April 11, many participants said that the campaign had so far contributed greatly to increasing the value of retail domestically made goods in 2011.

Le Cong Dong, deputy head of the Department of Propaganda and Training under the city Party Committee said that in April, HCMC will conduct a survey to measure consumer confidence of domestically made goods. The survey will last until July.

According to Nguyen Thi Hong, deputy chairwoman of the City People’s Committee, the campaign’s main target is to promote made-in-Vietnam goods in markets. Public agencies, enterprises and local residents must support the campaign as well as strengthen inspection of markets and punish violators, so as to protect legitimate interests of local manufacturers.

Many manufacturers have to deal with counterfeit goods that have been illegally imported into Vietnam through various channels, she added.

Ha said that the city will create advantageous conditions to help local businesses to raise production and subsequently reduce prices for consumers.

She also said that businesses and producers should focus on upgrading their technology and management infrastructure to produce high quality products with good design at low prices. In addition, it is necessary to set up a distribution network and after-sale services, she added.

A report by the Steering Committee said that the campaign had contributed to increasing the value of retail domestically made goods in 2011 to over VND2004 trillion (US$95 billion), up by 24.2 per cent against the previous year.

The campaign has also changed the attitudes of people and businesses’ towards Vietnamese made products. Many domestic businesses are now focused on developing their distribution network, not o¬nly in shopping malls and supermarkets, but also in traditional rural markets.

Rice prices fall after Gov’t stockpiles

Soon after the Vietnam Food Association completed purchasing of rice in some provinces for stockpiling, prices which had increased slightly have dropped again.

Nguyen Thanh Hung, director of the Department of Industry and Trade in Hau Giang Province said that the total output of winter-spring rice crop in the province is 500,000-600,000 tonnes but the association has bought up only 30,000 tonnes.

Similarly, the rice output in Dong Thap Province is 1.5-1.6 million tonnes, but the association only bought 160,000 tonnes for stockpiling, barely 10 per cent of the output.

By April 10, the delta had harvested two thirds of 1.5 million hectares of winter-spring rice. The total output is estimated at 11 million tonnes while the Government has plans to buy only one million tonnes of husked rice.

The Mekong Delta cultivates three rice crops a year. While a large volume of winter-spring rice is still unsold, farmers have begun to seed the summer-autumn crop.

Farmers usually seed and harvest rice at the same time. This creates conditions for traders to squeeze prices during peak harvest time.

Besides, farmers also face risks of unseasonal weather. In the last winter-spring crop, vast areas of rice were flattened due to rainstorms, which badly affected output and also increased harvesting costs.

According to Duong Nghia Quoc, director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Dong Thap Province, warehouses should be built soon to help farmers preserve rice.

The Vietnam Food Association has so far purchased 700,000 tonnes of rice for stockpiling from a target of one million tonnes, and is expected to purchase the remaining amount by April 15.

VietinBank expands online Western Union service

Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade, or VietinBank, has expanded Western Union Online, an account-based money transfer (ABMT) service, for the first time in Vietnam through its IPay system.

To use the service, customers will log in IPay account on the website www.viettinbank.vn to receive money. ABMT applies new technology that allows access through website or mobile phones 24 hours a day.

To register for ABMT, users can access VietinBank transaction points to open IPay accounts.

VietinBank is the first and the only lender in Vietnam and the 10th bank in the world providing the service. The lender has had a large number of customers since launching the product last November.

Ngo Xuan Hai, general director of VietinBank’s Global Money Transfer Company, said in a statement released on Tuesday that the product targets young and tech-savvy clients. VietinBank will also work with its partners to continue research and deploy product of receiving money via SMS in the coming time.

VietinBank has launched a promotion program for the first 50 customers of its ABMT service.

Lixil to build Dong Nai factory

Japan’s Lixil Corporation will invest US$441 million to develop a building materials factory in Dong Nai Province, said Dong Nai Industrial Zone Authority (DIZA).

DIZA vice director Nguyen Van Thanh told the Daily that his agency had officially issued an investment certificate for Lixil’s project. The awarding ceremony will be held in Japan as part of the province’s delegation’s trip there to promote investment.

The Japanese investor will develop the factory over 55 hectares in Long Duc Industrial Park, which has recently got off ground in Long Duc Commune, Long Thanh District.

The factory will produce high-quality building materials for export, mostly aluminum. The project will be kicked off within this year and will be deployed in two phases.

Lixil Corporation specializes in manufacturing building materials such as tiles, ceramics and materials for interior and exterior decoration, says DIZA on its website. The corporation was formed through the merger of five Japanese firms namely Tostem Corporation, Inax Corporation, Shin Nikkei Co. Ltd., Toyo Exterior Co. Ltd. and Sun Wave Corporation.

In Vietnam, Lixil is carrying out projects to supply Inax-branded sanitary ware products in Hanoi, Hung Yen, Quang Nam and Vung Tau.

Apart from Lixil, Dong Nai’s authority will also award an investment certificate to another Japanese investor Belmont on a business trip to Japan that will wrap up next Monday. Belmont will invest US$4 million to develop a factory producing dental and medical devices in Long Duc Industrial Park.

Earlier, the business delegation of Dong Nai had a meeting with Toyota Tsusho Corporation, a unit under Toyota Group. The two sides discussed conditions for Toyota Tsusho and other Japanese companies to join in the Agropark project of Dong Nai Food Industrial Corporation (Dofico).

The delegation has also worked with Sojitz Corporation and signed a cooperation agreement with the Japanese business. In addition, an investment promotion conference has been organized in Tokyo with the participation of over 250 Japanese enterprises.

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