Friday, July 04, 2008

Vietnam's Business Briefs

VCB secures 100 mln USD loan from Italian bank

The Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank-VCB) signed a deal on a 100 million USD loan with the Intesa Sanpaolo bank of Italy on July 2.

Vietcombank Chairman Nguyen Hoa Binh said the three-year loan would contribute remarkably to the bank’s mid-term foreign currency funds to serve its development targets.

According to Binh, Vietcombank has risen its total asset to 203 trillion VND (12.3 billion USD), up by 6 trillion VND from the end of 2007. Some 5.3 billion USD of the figure were in foreign currency funds.

Intesa Sanpaolo representative said the deal was of significance in boosting trade relations between Italy and Vietnam by assisting Italian businesses to enter the Southeast Asian market.

Intesa Sanpaolo is soon to open its Hanoi representative office, the first one in Vietnam.

ANZ gets nod from Vietnam's central bank

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group has been granted in principle approval to set up a wholly Vietnam incorporated operation.

Following the move, the bank will open at least four new outlets in Vietnam by the end of this year.

The announcement followed approval-in-principle by the State bank of Vietnam on June 25 but only released on July 2.

The approval will help ANZ compete more equally with local banks. The bank’s existing branch in Hanoi is expected to be retained.

The newly incorporated bank will help meet the needs of Vietnam’s growing population by offering more products.

These are expected to include mortgage loans, credit cards, car loans and better savings and investments.

Alex Thursby, group managing director for Asia and the Pacific, said the bank regarded expansion in Vietnam as one of its highest Asian priorities.

ANZ has 13.9 percent equity in Saigon Securities Incorporation and 10 percent stake in Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial bank (Sacombank).

ANZ entered Vietnam in 1993 and has branches in Hanoi and HCM City, and a representative office in Can Tho Province.

So far this year, Vietnam has already granted licences to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) and Standard Chartered Bank. About 27 other foreign banks are awaiting approval to set up wholly foreign-invested operations.

US Treasury to help VN with State bonds

The US Department of Treasury will give Vietnam technical assistance in the management and issue of State bonds and design of a secondary bond market.

The announcement was made as Nguyen Ngoc Canh, director of the State Securities Commission’s International Co-operation Department, and US Department of Treasury representative Keith Krchak met in Hanoi on Tuesday to discuss capital market development.

The commission will receive guidance on State bond market interest rate structures and methods of bond issuance, Canh said.

The Treasury Department will also provide expertise on the establishment of a secondary State bond market.

Specifically, advice will focus on transaction methods both with the primary market and within the secondary market, reporting and information announcement regulations, and how to deal with payment risks and payment duty violations.

The commission plans a secondary bond market with three component parts: a State bond market, a local government bond market and a corporate bond market, Canh said.

An official agreement on exactly what assistance will be provided is being drafted by the two sides and will be finalized in the coming months, he said.

To develop the capital market, Vietnam must cut some public spending Krchak said.

JICA helps modernize tax department

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will help the Vietnamese Tax General Department (TGD) to implement reforms in tax policies for three years as of August 2008.

The project to this effect was signed by General Director of the TGD Nguyen Van Ninh and JICA country representative Hiroaki Nakagawa in Hanoi on July 1.

It will focus on campaigning and supporting tax payers to fulfill their duties as well as to improve tax collectors’ competence.

Vietnam, Switzerland enjoy trade development

The two-way trade value between Vietnam and Switzerland in the first four months of 2008 reached 185 million USD, surging 18.36 percent over the same period last year, the Vietnamese trade mission in the European country has reported.

In the reviewed period, Vietnam earned about 97.6 million USD from exports to Switzerland, a year-on-year increase of 10.7 percent.

Vietnam’s main staples exported to Switzerland included coffee, footwear, sea products, furniture, textiles and garments, watch components.

However, only coffee, sea products, furniture and watch components enjoyed increases in export turnover over the same period last year while other saw drops.

With its higher demands for production materials, Vietnam’s imports sharply increased, particularly medicines and chemicals, that surged by 62 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

Its total import turnover from Switzerland was 87.5 million USD, up 28.23 percent.

Switzerland by the end of 2007 had 46 valid investment projects capitalised at 720.86 million USD in Vietnam, ranking 18th among foreign investors in the country.

Quang Ngai set for 2.5 billion USD plant

The Quang Ngai Provinccial people’s Committee has sought approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to build a 2,400MW thermal power plant at a cost of around 2.59 billion USD in the Dung Quat Economic Zone.

The Dung Quat Thermal Power Plant, to be located in Binh Son district, will have four turbines.

While the first will be completed in 2015, all four will be in operation by 2019.

The plant will operate on oil and coal imported from Australia and Indonesia .

The Sai Gon-Dung Quat Investment and Development Joint Stock Company plans to invest and build the plant.

EVN’s six-month power purchase increases by 25 percent

The Viet Nam Electricity Corporation (EVN) had to buy 11.1 billion kWh from other power companies in the first six months of this year, up 25.2 percent over the same period last year.

According to EVN, the power production faced more difficulties in the period due to the weather conditions that much reduced the water flow to its reservoirs.

In addition, the electricity demand was likely to sharply increase as the prices of gas and petroleum have become higher than power prices.

EVN in the past six months increased its total output to 36.4 billion kWh, a 14.8 percent year-on-year increase.

It sold about 31.8 billion kWh, up 15.6 percent over the same period last year.

The corporation has put into operation two turbines in the Tuyen Quang Hydro-electricity Power Plant and the second turbines in the Dai Ninh Hydro-electricity Power Plant to add 378 MW to the national grid.

It also increased the output of hydro-electricity power plants by 25 percent to 9.4 billion kWh.