Look at the ptoblems they have getting jobs ar home.
Look at the ptoblems they have getting jobs ar home.
This lumps together Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines for their similar economic and demographic prospects. It serves as a catchall for a number of relative bright spots in Southeast Asia as investors into the region look beyond China’s long shadow.
Here’s another analysis coming to the same conclusion
Idonesia is 4th after some real dogs Venezuela, Turkey and Ukraine. Yikes, it might be a another real dog.
M’sia is way down even below PinoyLand. Thailand is juz better than M’sia while Vietnam is really safe by the standards of the others. Safer than Saudi Arabia.
Neither is M’sia or SE Asia. It’s Northern Asia. I blogged yonks ago that we are part of the Microsoft ecosystem.
This S’pore-based co was founded by Forrest Li, an American educated PTC. A foreign talent indeed.
Since starting in 2009, Garena has rapidly expanded into multiple product lines. It started off creating software that linked people up for multiplayer games, then ventured into game distribution.
In 2010, it launched a mobile social network called Garena+, and more recently unveiled a couple of chat apps (BeeTalk is one) and a payment network called AirPlay. It has even launched its own venture capital firm to invest in startups. Garena has invested in Redmart, an online supermarket in Singapore.
The company claims to have 17 million monthly active users on the PC and 11 million on mobile. Most of its users come from Southeast Asia, but it has expanded into Taiwan and Hong Kong as well. It made S$31 million (US$22 million) in revenue in 2012, growing three times from the year before, according to Garena’s financial documents. In 2014, its annual revenue reached US$200 million.
The company is said to have become the top games publisher in Southeast Asia after itreceived an investment from Chinese internet giant Tencent, which also gave Garena an exclusive license to distribute League of Legends in the region.
According to the Financial Times, the OTPP investment values the company at over US$2.5 billion. Garena wouldn’t confirm the valuation figure.
It has reecently raised a new round of funding, led by The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) with participation from existing investors.
In China, e-commerce sales make up more than 10 per cent of total retail sales, according to RHB, a Malaysia bank. That compares with only 1 per cent in the 10 countries of Asean, of which Indonesia is the largest, followed by Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.
RHB says there are “no clear dominant regional [Asean] players at the moment” but that the market is “about to take off” given rapid growth in internet penetration and the adoption of mobile technology by young people among the 620m Asean population.
UBS, the Swiss bank, says that most internet traffic in Asean comes from mobile devices as the traditional PC has been circumvented by the arrival of 3G services.
Garena is among a new group of regional online gaming and e-commerce companies that have moved rapidly into Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar with mobile-based applications for gaming and messaging. They include OffGamers, Asiasoft and Nasdaq-listed MOL, a Malaysian group.
Internet-based retailers have also made inroads, including Lazada.com, which has said it aims to be the Amazon of Southeast Asia.
The Thais can blame the political problems there. Govt here blames the “deft” locals for insisting that govt cuts back on its uber liberal immigration policy? To be fair, we’ve the only developed country in Asean, so lower growth rates are par for the course. Tell that to TRE ranters and other anti-PAP paper warriors: they blame the PAP for everything that isn’t “right” here. .
No, not authoritarian govts always “fixing the Oppo.
After all, M Ravi, the go-to, kick-ass, take-no-prisoners constitutional lawyer for a drug mule who think the world owes him a living, hooligans who think human rights is the right to disrupt YYMCA activities and tell lies, and a gay that homely gays don’t want to be associated with, said recently that S’pore is a “democratic society”. No I’m not joking, M Ravi said recently, “We are instructed to place on notice our client’s profound sense of regret that in a democratic society like Singapore, her Constitutional rights and freedoms have been curtailed so drastically on a premise that in her submission is flawed, and all her rights are reserved.”
Coming back to the title, seriously what S’pore, Vietnam and Cambodia have in common is that citizens are by and large banned from gambling in casinos in their own country.
And why isn’t Cambodia studying the laws on allowing locals into Cambodian casinos. After all the Oppo-fixing PM admires our very own LKY.
Ros Phirun, the government’s spokesman on gambling and casinos, says no new decision have been made that would allow Cambodian citizens to wager in Cambodian casinos. He does offer however that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has been studying legislation in America, the Philippines, Vietnam and China, as it prepares to draft new laws to improve casino governance. With better laws, there might be less harm done in letting Cambodians gamble away their savings. “In general, our management of the gambling industry has not been thorough because we have not had the right laws in place …
S’pore’s rules don’t work in a poor country.
One suggestion is to follow the Singapore model. Casinos there charge residents who wish to enter a casino a cover fee of about $80 per day. Alternatively they may buy annual passes for about $1,600 each … But the same pay-to-play fee structure would be ludicrous in Cambodia, a country where the minimum wage is stuck at about $100 a month and mean disposable income is not greater than $120 per month.
Interestingly, the blog says of S’pore’s law: Dubious thinking has it that only those Singaporeans who can afford to gamble in the first place will be willing to pay the entrance fee.
Vietnam Spearheads Frontier Market Investing With a young population and a growing middle class, Vietnam is a popular market for private equity investors, The Wall Street Journal writes.
Number of foreign visitors received in 2013
I’m surprised that Indonesia has only 8.8m visitors given the popularity of Bali.
Still Mynamar is the place to invest in the tourism biz. Opportunities there from recent BBC article.
When I saw the above table, I tot of the Deaf Frog’s “Cheaper, Better, Faster”. There is always somewhere cheaper as above from FT article shows. And MNCs will move there: now moving from Jakarta and Vietnam to central Java. (Btw, $ + US$)
“Cheaper, Better, Faster’
The apologist version of what he meant by a website funded by a organisation headed by one Philip Yeo after being approached by one BG Yeo (taz the rumour). With credentials like these how not to believe meh?
In 2007, Lim coined the phrase to exhort Singaporean companies to increase their competitiveness.
Companies have to be cheaper and better than their competitors internationally, because those who used to be cheap (China) are now getting better, and those that used to be good (United States) are now getting cheaper as well. Hence, Singaporean companies have to be cheaper and better than them, and yet turnaround faster.
He obviously didn’t do an MBA: it’s accepted wisdom that one cannot have all three, only two. Attempts to have all three results in failure. This should cheer on TRE posters: Swee Say is urging a policy doomed to failure.
By 2050, elderly (65 and over) almost 40% of population
Next to Japan only. But no robots here, only FTs.
Japs smarter than us in avoiding the problems that FTs bring, like pushy Pinoys, wanting to change PM from Prime Minister to Pinoy Minister and SPF to S’pore Pinoy Force. But then they have friends like William wan, Kirsten Han, AWARE and Maruah. Their only public opposition is Gilbert Goh and Goh Meng Seng.
The govt should remember that when the Pinoys burnt our flag in the 1990s and it protested, the Pinoy govt gave the S’pore govt the finger, telling it nothing wrong with burning our flag.
It was reported that the recent Vietnamese rioters burnt our national flag and industrial parks because our Singapore’s flag was mistaken as the PRC’s flag. A TRE writer said that this sounded like a convenient excuse for both the authorities of Vietnam as well as Singapore. To the Vietnamese, it could claim that the fire was an honest mistake. To the Singapore Government, it could claim that the fire was not due to any failed foreign policy.
The person went on to argue that S’pore was pro-PRC, and the Viets knew this, and decided to whack us.
Well this could be right. but my take is that the Viets “know” that S’pore has so many PRC* FTs that they think S’pore is part of Greater China: so might as well burn our flag, while they are burning Taiwanese factories and killing a Chinese worker. Anyway burning our flag is a lot less worse than burning S’porean- owned factories, businesses or industrial parks, or killing S’poreans. So in my scale of things that matter, burning our flag is pretty. Lives and property matter more.
Which brings me to FDI. Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea respectively are Vietnam’s four largest investors, as measured by registered capital. China ranks between 5th and 11th, depending on how Vietnam’s official data is interpreted. A Western analyst says foreign investors are still trying to determine whether there are more serious problems afoot that may pose a potential threat to future investment, such as a bias against foreign investors, or instability in the regime.
Given Sembcorp’s biz as a an industrial park developer there, it will be watching closely.
To end, since partying in Orchard Rd is a “trespass” on our sovereignty (at least to one GMS), I look forward to hearing from Goh Meng Seng supporting the govt’s stand on our flag being burnt. If not, I and you the reader can reasonably conclude that GMS is anti-Pinoy or the PAP govt (or both), rather than pro-Singapore. Or at least being pro-S’pore comes lower in his priorities than being ant-Pinoy or anti-PAP.
BTW, I would be more indulgent of GMS if he had simply said that Pinoy partying in Orchard Rd was not to his liking because it was too in S’poreans’ face. But he decided to rant about sovereignty, a technically legalistic concept.
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”
(Thru the Looking-Glass)
Have a gd weekend.
*Slutty looking, violent, cheating shop assistant can get PR meh? There is gd evidence that a PRC prostitute got citizenship.
The editor and publisher of The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report said that he personally favors emerging market securities that are still “cheap” …
Marc Faber underlined his belief that emerging markets provide a more suitable option for more profitable investments. He added that he has parked cash in countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore.
“I made some investments more than a year ago in Iraq, because it’s very cheap. There’s lots of problems but the market is very very inexpensive,” he said. “Russia is dirt cheap, but I don’t think there is a hurry to buy Russian stocks.”
As usual he is a super bear over the US.
This week’s Asean’s round-up is all about Temasek or its TLCs.
Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings Pvt Ltd TEM.UL is seeking to sell its $3.1 billion stake in Thai telecom company Shin Corp INTUCH.BK, according to people familiar with the matter, and has approached its SingTel (STEL.SI) unit as a possible buyer. But the troubles in Thailand have put an end to the talks.
TRE and TOC readers will be banging their balls when they learn: The Temasek stake in Shin Corp, founded by former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is worth $3.1 billion by current market value.
Shin Corp’s shares now trade more than 50 percent above the price paid in 2006 by a Temasek-led consortium, that included Chinese-Thai businessman Surin Upatkoon, when it bought 96 percent of the Thai firm for a total of $3.8 billion.
As for SingTel:
“At a fair price such a deal would make sense for SingTel,” Chris Lane, senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong who covers Asia-Pacific telecommunications. SingTel is 52 percent-owned by Temasek.
Shin Corp owns 40.5 percent of Thailand’s biggest mobile telecoms company, Advanced Info Service Pcl ADVANC.BK. SingTel already has a 23 percent stake in AIS: Adding the Shin Corp stake would cement its position in a bigger market and offset sluggish growth in mature economies where it’s also present, like Australia.
“SingTel executives are involved in the day-to-day operations of the company AIS,” said Bernstein analyst Lane. “Buying the stake from Temasek avoids the possibility of another ‘telco’ securing a significant interest in AIS.”
FPT Corp, Vietnam’s largest publicly traded telecommunications and software company, has asked Temasek to help it identify a Singapore technology company for acquisition to boost sales overseas, the Bloomberg news agency reported.
FPT will spend as much as US$20 million (S$25 million) on a Singapore acquisition, Chief Executive Officer Bui Quang Ngoc said in an interview on Wednesday. The company, which had sales of 28.6 trillion dong (S$1.7 billion) in 2013, seeks to more than triple revenue from overseas to US$400 million by the end of 2016, co-founder Mr Ngoc, who took charge in July, said in Hanoi. “Singapore is a very attractive market,” Mr Ngoc said. “If we can be successful in Singapore, it means we have enough experience to do it in other countries.”
FPT is looking to acquire a Singapore company that specialises in software services such as inventory management, order processing and employee payroll, said Mr Duong Dung Trieu, chief executive officer of FPT Information System, a unit that contributes 25 per cent of the parent’s pretax profit.
The company plans to make the acquisition in Singapore “as soon as possible,” Mr Ngoc said. Temasek holds less than 5 per cent stake in FPT, according to the Vietnamese company.
Finally airport services and catering firm SATS (a listed TLC) agreed to buy a 41.65 per cent stake in Indonesian aviation and food service provider Cardig Aero Services for 1.1 trillion rupiah (S$118 million) to grow its business in South-east Asia’s largest economy.
Indonesia is a priority market said SATS. The country’s topography and a fast-growing economy and middle-class population will continue to drive greater demand for high-quality food and travel, it said. “CAS is an attractive investment opportunity in our core business which will generate sustainable value for our customers, employees and shareholders as Indonesia continues to grow,” said Mr Alexander Hungate, President and Chief Executive Officer of SATS.
And he’s right about Indonesia: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21596989-how-worlds-fourth-most-populous-country-weathering-emerging-market
(Or “Anti-PAP bloggers share LKY’s Hardest Truth)
Schroders plc and Baring Asset Management Ltd are avoiding Singapore stocks, the cheapest in South-east Asia, as slower economic growth in the region and cuts to Federal Reserve stimulus drive capital outflows.
The fund managers expect property to lead declines in Singapore amid a real-estate slump and the prospect of higher interest rates. The Straits Times Index was the worst-performing developed market in 2013, dropping 9.5 per cent since Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said in May that bond purchases may be reduced on signs of sustainable US recovery.
Surprised constructive nation-building (but mathematically challenged) BT reported things this way.
In US$ terms, among the bigger Asean stock mkts, only the M’sian stk mkt was better than us. Taz not saying much as only M’sia index ended in positive territory (juz) juz before hols
Got subversives in BT meh?
In the minnow Asean mkts Vietnam was +24%, while Manila was +3.4% according to the MSCI indices.
Next yr is not going to be a gd yr for Asean countries, so the fact that Schroders and Barings are “avoiding” S’pore is no big deal for anti-PAP bloggers to brag about. Don’t know about you, but I get the sense that some of them hate the PAP so much that they end up cheering and being cheerful when S’pore tanks, for whatever reason. Looks like they agree with one LKY that S’pore and the PAP are one. They may hate him but they accept his premise?
Asean round-up returns next yr, god willing.
More to irritate Temaeek and S’pore (self) haters, especially TRE readers*. There are advantages to S’poreans’ reputation as the Prussians of the East: hardworking, careful, conscientious and mindlessly efficient. These are very qualities that make Keppel and SembCorp world beaters in rig-building.
Singapore’s two main yards, Keppel and SembCorp Marine, have also invested heavily in quality and efficiency. They specialise more in deep-sea rigs than in drill-ships and carriers. Keppel, the bigger of the two, is building a record 20 such monsters this year; next year it will deliver the first of three giant, $600m “jack-up” rigs (ones that are floated into place then jacked up on their legs).
Time is money
The Singaporeans are also good at building things on time, which is vital in an industry where late delivery can cost the operators of rigs and drill-ships over $500,000 a day. Over the past five years, rigs ordered from Keppel and SembCorp were, on average, delivered ahead of schedule, whereas Chinese yards delivered 50-250 days late, says IHS Petrodata, a research firm.
As to China’s cost advantage, having facilities in Indonesia helps provide cheap labour for SembCorp’s rig building biz. Keppel too has an Indonesian operation, though its tiny compared to SembCorp’s.
And with Vietnam having problems with China over maritime boundaries, one wonders if Chinese built-rigs are allowed in its waters. Remember, energy cos are exploring for oil off Vietnam. Still, the waters do not require the sophisticated rigs built by these TLCs.
Related post: https://atans1.wordpress.com/?s=Temasek+Fab+5
*Though TRE readers will be pleased that these TLCs are not led by ex-generals or ex-Temasek MDs. The CEO of Keppel is a scholar, but I’m not sure of the background of CEO’s SembCorp. But both have worked that these TLs for many yrs. They were not parachuted in like in NOL to teach executives to suck eggs.
Batman bin Suparman’s family appear to be originally from the Indonesia island of Java – where the name Suparman is very common, explains Ben Zimmer, a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who has worked in Indonesia and who has written about Suparman.
“Su” has Sanskrit origins and is a common prefix in Indonesia, featuring in a whole rung of Indonesian presidents’ names – including the current one Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “Bin” means “son of” in Arabic, making it very likely that Batman’s father was also called Suparman.
The Batman part is a bit harder to explain, however says Zimmer, as it’s not a traditional name in the region. The most likely explanation is that his parents chose it as a joke – Batman the superhero is popular there, and Indonesians are often playful in the names they choose, says Zimmer. “I see the name as this interesting juxtaposition of local naming with Western pop culture.”
Illegal logging and mismanagement of Indonesia‘s forestry industry may have prevented more than US$7 billion flowing to state coffers from 2007 to 2011, costing the government more than its health budget, Human Rights Watch said.
In contrast, the Indonesian government’s 2011 revenue from timber royalties and reforestation fees was US$300 million, said Emily Harwell, the lead author of a report released by Human Rights Watch.
“This is a very conservative estimate,” Dr Harwell, a partner at Natural Capital Advisors LLC, said at a briefing in Jakarta on Nov 8 of lost revenue. “The calculation doesn’t include any wood that’s smuggled.”
The report indicates that weak governance is chipping away at revenues in the world’s fourth-most populous nation, as budget and current-account deficits this year hurt the rupiah. BT report.
Malaysia has the highest English language proficiency level in the entire Asian region, according to a latest research by Swiss-based international education company EF Education First (EF).
The nation also climbed two notches higher to 11th place from 13th position last year in the EF English Proficiency Index which saw over 60 countries being surveyed.
The results revealed that Malaysia, which was placed in the ‘High Proficiency’ category, had overtaken Singapore who fell behind to 12th position in the world ranking. Malaysia scored 58.99 points in the survey while neighbouring Singapore received a 58.92 score.
Money for Vietnamese start-ups and buy-outs
— Ministry of Science and Tech in Vietnam pours $110 million into startups
— Franklin Templeton Investments (BEN)’ venture in Vietnam said the time is right for buyout firms to invest in the country as it expects monetary and fiscal reforms to take effect over the next three to five years.
Low valuations, constrained bank lending and an improved corporate landscape mean private-equity investors have an opportunity to buy companies in the Southeast Asian country before the economy picks up again, said Avinash Satwalekar, chief executive officer of Vietcombank Fund Management, Templeton’s venture with Joint-Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam.
“The best time to make investments is when the water is murky,” Satwalekar, 39, said in an interview in Singapore yesterday. “When its gets clear, that’s when everybody can make investments.”
Philippine Finance Minister Cesar Purisma has told the BBC that the devastation caused by the Typhoon Haiyan Mr Purisma says that the worst affected region accounts for 12.5% of the Philippines economy and a steep slowdown there could slow the overall economy by one percentage point next year. IMF has earlier this yr said GDP growth would be 6% next yr.
Mr Purisma also said it would take “many years” to rebuild the infrastructure damaged by the storm.
In the words of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), a S’pore govt-funded think tank, in its Oct Asean Monitor
Barisan Nasional’s worst-ever general election performance in May has undermined Prime MinisterNajib Razak’s promise to reform the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) after he took overits leadership in 2009. Outside UMNO, liberal reforms are stridently opposed and resisted by extremist Malay-Muslim groups such as PERKASA and by UMNO-owned media, especially the Utusan Malaysianewspaper. Within UMNO, political momentum favours former Prime Minister Mahathir and his conservative allies, who support preserving the ketuanan Melayu (“Malay ownership”) status quo.
Recognizing that UMNO needs to be further strengthened after its failure to win a convincing majority of the Malay vote, many senior party leaders and veterans will not want the president and deputy president posts, held by Najib and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyddin Yassin, respectively, to be contested duringthe upcoming October party elections. However, the party’s three vice-presidential posts are likely tobe hotly fought over by the incumbents Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Shafie Apdal and Hishammuddin Husseinand by three challengers, namely Mohd Ali Rustam, Isa Samad and, potentially, Mukhriz Mahathir.
Recent developments have further pressured Najib to follow through with his general-election pledge totackle corruption and crime. The 2013 Global Corruption Barometer report confirms the perception thatthe level of corruption in Malaysia has increased despite the government’s claims to the contrary. Publicconfidence in the corruption-tainted police force received another huge blow from the recent spike inviolent crimes, including more than 30 murder attempts in the past five months.
Because of the country’s deteriorating public finances, a global ratings agency has downgraded Malaysia’ssovereign credit rating outlook from stable to negative. The Malaysian ringgit slid to three-yearlows against the US dollar and to 15-year lows against the Singapore dollar; these slides may generate inflationary pressures. The government announced 10.5 percent and 11 percent hikes respectively in the prices of subsidized 95 RON gasoline and diesel on 3 September, and it is likely that further measuresto strengthen the country’s fiscal position will be introduced.
Key points: The status quo will persist, with conservatives gaining control of the UMNO supremecouncil. Budget 2014 will see the introduction of a GST and the scaling back and rescheduling of publicly funded projects.
The Chinese have to live with the consequences of their vote for Anwar’s group. The Indian community (which marginally supported BN) must be sore with the Chinese.
Other Asean round-up news:
Vietnam R Sembcorp (belated)
UNDETERRED by the many challenges facing Vietnam’s economy, Sembcorp has once again upped its investment in the socialist republic – this time by building central Vietnam’s first large-scale industrial park worth US$337.8 million.
This latest of five Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIPs) is sited in Quang Ngai province, about 90 minutes’ flight south of Hanoi. It offers manufacturers a new and alternative investment locale that is away from Vietnam’s northern and southern regions, where labour markets are tighter and costs continue to rise.
VSIP Quang Ngai will take shape in the form of a 1,120ha industrial park and integrated township; the industrial park will take up 600ha, with the other 520ha slated for commercial and residential purposes. BT 14th August: PM was in Vietnam BTW.
Thailand is to hand over rice and rubber in part-payment for its new high-speed rail system, it’s reported.
The country’s transport minister is expected to formally agree the barter deal with Chinese premier Li Keqiang … The project to link Bangkok with Nong Khai, close to the Laos border, is part of a proposed 2m baht ($30bn, £19bn) infrastructure investment programme to part-financed with agricultural products. The railway is one day envisaged to link Thailand with the Southern Chinese province of Kunming, via the Laos capital Vientiane.
Not saying much as above chart from FT shows that its flattish unlike the other Asean mkts. Seems the big local funds are buying.
Other Asean round-up news:
According to OSK-DMG while Indonesia will be increasing its oil production over the next few years but only a few offshore marine players here can benefit from this because of an Indonesian rule that protects jobs in the industry for Indonesians.
While rig builders here could stand to gain in the near term, it appears that the cabotage law in Indonesia is being expanded to include Indonesian shipyards as well, boding well for rig builders with Indonesian-based yards. Indonesia has cabotage rules requiring all work in the oil & gas sector to be done only by Indonesian-flagged vessels.
Thailand is the third biggest buyer of gold in Asia, after China and India having overtaken Vietnam.
The Fed’s decision to delay unwinding its $85-billion-a-month money-printing programme eases the pressure on the two Asian countries with the biggest dollar addiction – India and Indonesia – to cure their habit by squeezing domestic demand. Investors reacted accordingly: the Indonesian Rupiah jumped 1.9 percent against the dollar on the morning of Sept. 19, while Jakarta stocks rose 5 percent.
… Asian countries cannot afford to relax. From just before the onset of the global financial crisis, private sector debt has swelled by 73 percentage points of GDP in Hong Kong and 45 percentage points in Singapore. While these small, open economies can arguably live with large swings in capital flows, the credit surge in Malaysia and Thailand is more worrying. The longer the global liquidity glut lasts, the more painful the hangover will be.
Burma: Lady’s still sceptical
how sceptical she was about the reform process in Myanmar …
Yet, she pointed out, Myanmar is still not a democracy, and neither at peace, nor under the “rule of law”. She and her party are campaigning to change a constitution which, besides debarring her from the presidency she hopes to assume in 2015, guarantees the army a blocking minority in parliament. She said many members of the government are betting that economic success will enable them to hold back democracy. “How quickly and reliably can mindsets change?” she asked, recalling that Myanmar has had half a century of military dictatorship and just three of tentative reform.
And although ceasefires have been signed in most of the score of ethnic conflicts that have simmered since independence in 1948, a comprehensive peace deal remains a distant dream. She identified this—“national reconciliation”—as the biggest task facing Myanmar.
UOB Vietnam has launched a unit to advise Vietnamese businesses expanding into Asia.
“Vietnam has prospered from steady economic growth over the last decade and we have seen many of our customers develop from small businesses to companies that are ready to spread their wings to the rest of Asia,” said Thng Tien Tat, executive director of UOB Vietnam.
From the first half of last year to the same period this year, UOB’s business flows between Vietnam and Asia increased 20 per cent. Trade between Vietnam and Asia grew 46.7 per cent to US$150.4 billion from 2010 to 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The new FDI Advisory Unit will give UOB customers expanding in and out of Vietnam access to the bank’s full suite of corporate and personal banking products. BT
Floodwater encircled an industrial estate to the north-east of Bangkok yesterday, adding to fears that Thailand could see a repeat of the devastation caused by floods in 2011, but the estate’s director said the water will not enter the complex.
The 2011 floods killed more than 800 people around the country and caused major disruption to industry, cutting economic growth that year to just 0.1 per cent.
Since Thailand is a big supplier of electronic parts, hard disk drives and car parts, international supply lines were disrupted, too.
The government has insisted there will be no repetition, partly because rain has been less heavy this time but also because dams are nowhere near as full as they were then. BT
A Thai transgender student who protested against having to wear a male uniform could end up in court, it’s reported. BBC report
This chart from Reuters shows the vulnerability of major Asian economies to Fed policy of tapering
S’pore is vulnerable
Slowing GDP: Most vulnerable
Growing Public Debt : Second most vulnerable
Uncompetitive Currency: Second most vulnerable
Growing Credit Intensity: Fourth most vulnerable. Another view: Banks with large property loan portfolios will face higher risks when interest rates start to rise — this as highly-leveraged households begin to have difficulty paying their mortgages.
Economists said this could lead to credit tightening by banks, and a hard landing for the property sector.
If that happens, DBS Bank said Singapore and Hong Kong will be hardest hit within Asia.
In other Asean round-up news
surpluses of Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia have narrowed even more since the second half of 2007. However, this is partly because Thailand and Malaysia have boosted domestic investment, which lifts imports.
Malaysian and Indonesian companies are grappling with a margin squeeze: The two commodity-producing economies have witnessed the biggest rise in their real cost of capital. The Philippines has the opposite problem: Falling inflation-adjusted returns for savers.
Rightly or wrongly, though, the sovereign debt issued by developed countries is perceived as safe. Malaysia is not in the same league, and it is pruning petrol and diesel subsidies to control its growing public debt problem.
Unlike in 1997, most Asian countries have relatively straightforward choices. Malaysia can introduce a goods and services tax to control the 14 percentage point increase in its sovereign-debt-to-GDP ratio since 2007. Indonesia can raise interest rates to tame 9 percent inflation. The main problem is India, with its cocktail of slumping growth, high inflation, a creaking banking system, reckless fiscal policies and political uncertainty. Other Asian nations can’t take rising U.S. interest rates lightly, but they are far from a crisis.
Indonesia’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate 25 basis points Thursday afternoon in a move that defied market expectations and continued a swift phase of tightening efforts as the nation’s economic growth showed signs of stumbling.
The interest rate increased to 7.25 percent, the fourth hike in as many months, as Bank Indonesia moved to stabilize the increasingly volatile rupiah while controlling inflation and the widening trade deficit.
The danger of capital controls in Asean (Note this is new link and chart, not the one originally posted)
Asean trade with China (FT charts)
The govt likes to warn about the dangers of subsidies, forever quoting the deficits in the West. Well what about telling us about problems nearer home? And how come it’s ok to “subsidise” HDB flats at home? ‘Cause it not really a subsidy is what the usual suspects would argue.
Malaysia has cut fuel subsidies for the first time in more than two years as it tries to reduce its budget deficit.
The subsidy on petrol has been cut by 20 sen (6 cents; 4 pence) a litre and on diesel by 20 to 80 sen a litre.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said the cuts would result in savings of about 3.3bn ringgit ($1bn; £650m) a year.
The government spent 24bn ringgit on fuel subsidies last year, which contributed to a widening budget deficit.
Malaysia’s budget deficit was 4.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) last year.
Some analysts said that the cut in fuel subsidies was an attempt by the government to increase investor confidence and persuade them to leave their money in the country.
Malaysia’s ratio of public debt to gross domestic product (GDP) “is approaching worrying leve according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BOAML) report. It said that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio had risen to 54.6% at the end of the second quarter, from 53.8% in the first quarter.
The figure is just short of the country’s mandated debt ceiling of 55% of GDP. In the 1960s, the limit was made law by then-finance minister Tan Siew Sin to ensure fiscal prudence.
BOAML said that it could worsen. “Rising longer-term bond yields (and hence higher debt-servicing costs) may accelerate the climb.”
Meanwhile, total debt including guarantees is piling up.
“Government guaranteed debt came in at RM147.3 billion (S$56.4 billion) in the second quarter, slightly lower than RM147.8 billion in the first quarter. Adding this to public debt brings the quasi-public debt to about 70.2 per cent of GDP at the end of the second quarter, up from 69.4 per cent during the first quarter.” [BOA report added after first publication)]
Other Asean round-up news
Thailand‘s Thaksinonmics runs into trouble
Thaksinomics has always been about two things. First, it was about establishing a secure hold over the voters, and in that it has unquestionably been successful.
But it is also supposed to be about driving the domestic economy.
The original schemes for micro-credit, affordable healthcare and local product promotion have lifted the living standards of millions of poorer Thais, as has this government’s decision to raise the minimum wage.
But the benefits of the car and rice purchase schemes are more doubtful, especially given their cost.
Thailand still remains heavily dependent on exports and on foreign direct investment for its growth.
What Viki’s US$ 200m exit says about S’pore’s, M’sia’s and Indonesia’s startup environment
And one of the reasons for the flight of money from Indonesia, is it’s failure to tackle the rising cost of its fuel subsidy. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23015511
CNA Group’s Vietnam-based subsidiary, CNA-HTE Vietnam Co, has landed a $10.6 million contract to renovate, upgrade and expand the domestic terminals in Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Under this project, CNA will provide mechanical, engineering and plumbing services such as the air-conditioning, ventilation and electrical systems at the airport’s new two-storey domestic terminal. CNA will also upgrade the airport’s existing domestic terminal, which will be equipped with a new bus terminal building and a VIP lounge. Its roof will be upgraded.
The project is slated for completion in October next year and will contribute to the group’s financial performance for the fiscal year ending Dec 31, 2013. It boosted CNA’s order book to $74.2 million, from $63.6 million as at June 30.
This is CNA’s second airport-related project in South-east Asia this year; it won a contract for Laos’ Luang Prabang Airport in April for common-use terminal equipment, typically used to facilitate passenger check-ins. BT
In its latest set of results announced a few weeks ago, the profit contribution from regional associates climbed 14% to S$552 million in the quarter on higher results from Indonesia, Thailand and India, the company said.
SingTel gets 12% of its profit before tax from India and 22% from Indonesia, with those earnings in future likely to take a hit when translated back into Singapore dollars. Remember too the weakish A$, Baht, and Filipino peso will affect its earnings.
Other Asean round-up news
At an emergency meeting on Aug. 29, the monetary authority raised its benchmark and overnight deposit rates. It’s a decision Bank Indonesia should have made at its last official gathering less than two weeks ago. An obsession with economic growth stayed its hand. http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/08/29/currency-markets-rude-wakeup-call-stirs-indonesia/
Politics is back on the streets in Thailand, after a relative lull of more than two years, with a protest over the weekend. It underlines the persistence of divisions in Thailand and raises the prospect of a return to the political turmoil that left more than 90 people dead in Bangkok in 2010.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in a vacant lot in Bangkok on Saturday, as speakers threatened to “overthrow” the government.
The acrimony between the Democrats and the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra centres on a number of legislative issues, chiefly an effort by the government to pass an amnesty law for those involved in the 2010 protests.
The Democrats oppose the Bill, saying it might also apply to those who insulted the monarchy or committed serious crimes.
But the broader conflict appears to stem from their feeling of powerlessness in the face of the resurgence of Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Yingluck’s brother, who sets the broad policy lines for the government and the Pheu Thai Party despite living abroad since 2008 in self-imposed exile to escape corruption charges.
The weekend protests followed another peaceful one earlier this month involving some 2,500 supporters of the Democrat Party and royalist groups at Bangkok’s Lumpini Park, throwing fresh light on Thaksin’s divisive influence in Thailand.
(Extract from NYT)
Malaysia‘s government is exploring the possibility of hiking the real property gains tax to rein in rising housing prices and curb speculation in the market. Bernama quoted Housing Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan as saying that current property tax levels had failed to stabilise house prices with the house price index continuing to rise.
Malaysia’s GST will take 14 months to implement if announced in the budget in October, a ministry official said
The Philippines posted better-than-forecast economic growth, fuelled by its services sector and higher consumer and government spending. Its economy grew 7.5% in the April to June quarter, from a year earlier. It is the fourth quarter in a row its economy has expanded by more than 7% – defying a regional trend which has seen growth slow down in many countries. The Philippines’ 7.5% second-quarter growth matched that of China but is higher than Indonesia, Vietnam or Malaysia,
However, the country has been hurt in recent weeks by investors pulling out of the region’s emerging economies. This despite under emerging mkts, given the follow of remittances from workers overseas, it will not have to worry about investors’ outflows unlike other mkts.
Japan’s All Nippon Airways has said it will acquire a 49% stake in Asian Wings Airways, an airline based in Burma..
The Japanese airline will pay 2.5bn yen (US$25m) for the stake.mIt is the first time a foreign carrier has invested in a Burmese-based commercial airline. It currently operates domestic flights to all major tourist destinations in Myanmar.It t plans to “extend its wings to regional destinations through scheduled flights as well as chartered ones”.
Asean round-up: Bad news abounds
Indonesia’s benchmark Jakarta Composite Index – the biggest loser among emerging markets – has plunged over 20% in the past three months, putting it in bear market territory. Neighboring Thailand and the Philippines are not far behind, with losses amounting to over 17 and 11%
Thailand has fallen into recession after the economy shrank unexpectedly in the second quarter of the year.
The 0.3% contraction in gross domestic product between April and June followed a previous fall of 1.7% during the first quarter of 2013.
Previously, Thailand had been recording strong economic growth, outpacing other economies in the region, with expansion of more than 6% during 2012.
Many analysts had expected this performance to continue.
Sanjay Mathur, head of economics research at RBS, told the BBC that weak exports and domestic demand, plus fading business confidence, were to blame for the downturn.
I’m not only guy critical of Indon’s way of fighting inflation
— And on 19th August: Indonesia’s rupiah fell to 10,500 per US dollar for the first time since 2009, stocks dropped by the most in 22 months and government bonds plunged after the current-account deficit widened to a record last quarter.
The Jakarta Composite Index of shares has fallen 8 per cent in two days, and is now the world’s worst performer this quarter.
The yield on 10-year notes surged to the highest since March 2011 after Bank Indonesia (BI) said late on Aug 16 the current-account shortfall was US$9.8 billion, the largest in data compiled by Bloomberg going back to 1989. Inflation quickened to a four-year high and economic growth slowed to the least since 2010, figures showed last week.
As at Wednesday, the Indon market entered its bear phase after falling 20% since May http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23763829
A fund manager with local investment bank Lautandhana Securindo. “The measures taken by the government and the central bank [to fix the current-account deficit] haven’t brought about the desired results.”
Indonesia’s July consumer confidence index fell to the lowest level since May last year, and follows a sharp rise in fuel prices in late June, a Bank Indonesia survey showed on Monday.
The July index was 108.4, down from 117.1 the previous month and compared to 109.0 in May last year.
The survey of 4,600 households in 18 major cities in the archipelago showed that consumers were pessimistic over the current economic environment, particularly related to jobs and wages.
Concern over fewer jobs and lower wages is expected to be a feature of coming months.
However, the survey said price pressure is expected to decrease in January 2014, as demand ease after Christmas and New Year.
The central bank according to a recent report has lost 13.6% of its central bank reserves from the end of April until the end of July defending the currency. Well August would have added to the losses. And as the chart shows, it hasn’t that much money in the first place.
Malaysia’s growth was below expectations and the central bank, lowered its forecast for the year to 4.5-5%, from 5-6%. A sharp fall in the current account surplus highlighted fears that the country could be vulnerable to market turmoil.
Gross domestic product grew 4.3% in the second quarter of 2013 from the same period a year earlier, data showed yesterday, well below economists’ expectations of 4.9 per cent in a Reuters poll.
Forecasts had ranged from 4.2 to 5.2%, following growth of 4.1% in the first three months of the year.
Still, while the Thai, Indon and S’pore equity markets were in local currency terms below their 31Dec 2012 levels, M’sia is juz ahead by about 3%. All are down in US$ terms.
Vietnam was the country that was viewed as the “next China” due to its stable transition has started to generate concerns about a looming debt crisis.
Indonesia has overtaken China as a preferred investment destination for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), This was a key finding of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) SME Survey 2013, which polled 516 companies in June and July.
Of the 63% SMEs which are venturing into markets abroad, 39.9% favour investing in Malaysia and 28.1% Indonesia, a hair’s breadth more than the 27.2% looking towards China.
One reason given is that as the Chinese economy develops and wages rise, Indonesia could stand to position itself as an undertapped source of low-cost labour. As I blogged here, a few days back, LKY said that SMEs would flee S’pore if FTs were not allowed in by the cattle-truck load: they want cheap labour. The survey indicates that securing cheap labour is all that SMEs care about?
Other Asean-round up news:
Express link to KL
M’sia should talk to billionaire inventor Elon Musk. He wants to build a Hyperloop that would cut travel time between SF and LA to 35 minute. 12 minutes to KL based on the 35 minutes time
THe US Commerce Department declined to set duties on shrimp imports from Thailand and Indonesia. It has imposed duties on shrimp imports from five nations.
The ruling applies to about US$2bn of shrimp imports, from India, Ecuador, China, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Commerce Department found that those nations had been subsidising their shrimp producers.
Malaysia faces the highest duties of up to 54.5%, the lowest were set for Vietnam which faces duties of up to 7.8%.
A final approval is needed by another government body, the International Trade Commission (ITC), before the duties can take effect, The ITC will consider whether US producers have been threatened by the imports and make its decision in September.
Fighting inflation the Indon way
Bit like the way they fight the haze: wayang all the way.
Indonesia’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate on Thursday and took steps to contain loan expansion to battle inflation without taking any more steam out of slowing economic growth.
Many economists do expect another rate hike later this year but the central bank faces a tricky combination of surging prices, a falling rupiah, a stubborn current account deficit and slowing economic growth.
Gd summary from FT on Japan’s reemergence in region
China’s slowdown and the prospect of less easy US money have sent a chill through southeast Asia. Benchmark indices in Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila have lost almost half of the one-fifth gains they had made this year to mid-May. The real economy is weakening, too. Last week the Bank of Thailand cut its growth forecast below 5 per cent and recent comments from Bank Indonesia suggest it accepts growth will slip below 6 per cent. Hardly a disaster then, but nor is it what these countries or their followers are used to. Enter Japan and, crucially, its direct investment. In terms of trading with the region, Japan’s significance has slipped over the past decade as its economy stagnated, but at a shade over $200bn it commands the same share as China. Its FDI of $60bn into the region over that period, however, is 10-times greater than its giant neighbour, according to HSBC. Japan is either the largest or second-largest investor in each country.
During the past two months, Japanese banks and insurers have spent almost $6bn buying stakes in their southeast Asian counterparts. More deals are expected as they try to escape a weak and ageing home market.
Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co is expected to acquire a 15% stake in Thai Life Insurance Co. in what would be one of the biggest investments ever in Asia by a Japanese life insurer With the planned investment worth about ¥70 bn (US%700bn), Meiji Yasuda wants to make the major Thai insurer into an equity-method affiliate and dispatch executives, the sources said.
Like other Japanese insurers, Meiji Yasuda is looking to expand overseas earnings, especially in Asia, amid sluggish business at home due to the aging of society.
Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. has made a ¥28 bn investment in Vietnam’s top insurance group, while Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. in June announced a ¥34.3 bn investment in Indonesia. Sumitimo which lost out to Yasuda is now looking to Indonesia where Bank Negara is looking to sell up to 40% of its life business for up to $800m, according to the FT.
Japanese banks have been active too. https://atans1.wordpress.com/?s=Mitsubishi
Low labour costs and Cambodia’s proximity to key markets such as China and other emerging economies in South East Asia are attractive to foreign investors.
And with wages in countries such as Thailand and China on the rise, Cambodia is likely to become even more attractive.
Vietnam R private equity
As these charts show, S’pore’s economy is more exposed to China than Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and M’sia. (BTW, no Asean round-up this week)
Police in Vietnam have arrested a prominent blogger for anti-state activities, reports say.
Pham Viet Dao, 61, was arrested in Hanoi on Thursday for “abusing democratic freedoms”, the Ministry of Public Security said.
Mr Dao ran a blog critical of government leaders and policies, and discussed sensitive issues like the territorial row with China.
His arrest comes after another blogger was detained in May on similar charges.
Warburg Pincus-Led Consortium Buys Stake in Vietnamese Retailer A consortium led by the private equity firm Warburg Pincus has agreed to buy a 20 percent stake in the Vietnamese retailer Vingroup Joint Stock Company for $200 million. REUTERS
M’sia too will suffer because of drop in PC sales juz like S’pore https://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/when-economy-slows-not-nec-its-cause-ft-supply-ltd/ because Penang too is part of the Mircosoft ecosystem. And it too is not part of the Apple or Google ecosystems.
In Vietnam, the government’s planned sale of a 20% in Sabeco, a brewery, is expected this year, according to bankers.
Wilmar, one of Asia’s largest agribusinesses, and Cargill, the commodities’ trader are setting up in Burma.
18 companies, including Malaysia’s Axiata, Norway’s Telenor Group, parent of the Thai mobile operator DTAC, Digicel, the Caribbean based operator, and two Singaporean companies, Singapore Telecommunications, one of southeast Asia’s biggest telephone companies, and ST Telemedia, a unit of Temasek Holdings, have submitted proposals for the two telecoms licences
The Burma has abolished a 25-year-old ban on public gatherings of more than five people: more liberal than S’pore.
Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has made a US$100 million capital injection into its Philippines operations.The banking group, the fourth largest in the region, on the previous Friday launched a new corporate head office in Manila and announced plans to double its number of branches in that country to 100 by 2014, and thereafter to 200 by 2018, Malaysia’s Business Times said.
It currently has 54 branches there, with another expected to open in the city of Davao by the end of this month.
Maybank Philippines Inc (MPI), which has been operating since 1997 and is now the 24th largest bank by assets, may eventually go for a listing there. The Philippine central bank had last year issued a directive, requiring banks controlled by their foreign counterparts to go for a listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
“India, Indonesia and Vietnam stand to benefit most as they have large labour forces and strong domestic markets,” says HSBC on MNCs moving on from China because of rising wages and an appreciating yuan.
Vietnam’s benchmark index was up 20% in the past six weeks, four times better than the MSCI Asia ex-Japan.
Gd news for SE Asia. China has reported better-than-expected trade data, adding to optimism that growth in the world’s second-largest economy may be rebounding.Exports, a key driver of expansion, rose 14.1% in December from a year earlier. Most analysts had forecast a figure closer to 4%.Imports also rose, climbing 6% and indicating stronger domestic demand.
The US has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Indonesia’s restrictions on imports of horticultural and animal products. BBC report. Other agricultural exporters like Australia and Thailand have been unhappy about Indonesia’s restrictions too.
Thailand is considering measures to help companies cope with the country’s rise in the minimum wage (35% up from level of last year), but has rejected business warnings of job losses, factory closures and a shift by some manufacturers to neighbouring countries
Thailand’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.75% on Wednesday, as expected, saying the global economy continued to recover while growth this year could be higher than thought and inflation was stable.
The International Monetary Fund has warned that a credit boom in Cambodia poses a threat to economic growth. Banks have been cutting interest rates to win customers and private sector credit has increased by almost a third in the past 12 months, the fund said.
A $US200m deal with Masan Group by KKR is the largest by a private equity firm so far in Vietnam. It comes in addition to an earlier $159 million investment by KKR. Masan is Vietnam’s leading fish, soya and chilli sauce producer. As well as sauces Masan makes instant foods such as noodles, cereals and coffees. The firm estimates that 90% of local households use its products.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20954875
Japan was in talks with the Philippines on Thursday to enhance maritime co-operation amid their separate territorial rows with China.
“We talked about the challenges that we appear to be facing in view of the assertions being made by China,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, in Manila.
Part of the co-operation may include 10 new patrol vessels from Japan to boost the Philippine coast guard, as well as communication equipment, Mr Del Rosario said.
Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee-shop company, will ope nits first store in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City next month.
But this is the more interesting bit: We know coffee is a national pride for many Vietnamese and as such, we look forward to contributing and growing Vietnam’s already vibrant coffee industry. As we continue to source more Vietnamese high-quality, arabica coffee we want to leverage our scale to bring the best of Vietnam’s coffee traditions to the rest of the world … Starbucks already purchases a notable amount of some of the highest-quality arabica coffee from Vietnam and is committed to sourcing more arabica coffee from the Vietnam region over the long-term. Starbucks will continue to promote responsible business practices and production standards within its existing and prospective supply chains and will work closely with local coffee farming communities to elevate the quality of arabica coffee and introduce customers globally to the rich Vietnamese coffee heritage.
The will work closely with local coffee farming communities is a standard Starbucks promise. But given that according to the FT, “Vietnam is the world’s second largest producer of coffee beans after Brazil, any contribution Starbucks might make to improve quality and standards there could have a disproportionate impact.” Most of Vietnam’s production is robusta, a lower grade (and cheaper), arabica which is the coffee of choice round the world.
Again, no Asean round-up this week.
— Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFJ), Japan’s biggest bank, bought a 20% stake worth US$743m in state-owned VietinBank, the largest-ever merger or acquisition deal in Vietnam’s banking sector. The deal aims to boost “support for Japanese companies operating in Vietnam”, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ president Nobuyuki Hirano said, and to tap South-east Asian markets; after seeing its profits tumble this year, like other Jappo banks.
The Japanese bank last month reported profit in the six months to September dived 58 per cent year on year to US$3.6 billion, due partly to declines in stock holdings.
VietinBank, or Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade, said State Bank of Vietnam will still own the majority of its shares. For the record, it is Vietnam’s second largest bank by asseys.
— SMFG said it plans to expand its consumer finance business to target the growing middle classes in South-east Asia.
The new Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere?
No ASEAN round-up this hols week.
Shareholders of KFC Holdings in Malaysia voted in favor of a US$1.7 billion bid by a group that includes CVC Capital Partners, REUTERS
Msian IPO boom set to continue, leaving our SGX in the dust. The top two jobs in SGX are held by FTs where the “T” seems to stand for “Trash”. KLSE is run by a local.
Buyout Firms Increase Focus on Southeast Asia Moves by the Carlyle Group and K.K.R. show their “increasing interest in one of the world’s most promising, but complicated, emerging markets: Indonesia.”
Indonesia attracted a record US$5.9 bn in foreign direct investment in the third quarter. It is a hot despite a bleak global outlook and worries about corruption and corporate governance http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/22/us-indonesia-economy-fdi-idUSBRE89L04220121022.
Note KKR has juz opened an office in S’pore.
FT says the economies of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are being driven by relatively strong corporate balance sheets, commodity exports and robust consumption amid the emergence of a rapidly urbanising middle class with purchasing power, hence the PE interest.
If Vietnam gets its act together, it could join these countries. Thailand has the corporates and the middle class but not commodities. It manufactures. So it too will be on PE radar.
And taz why the PEs have set up shop here. Convenient hub.
And its China-plus-one Asean country for MNC manufacturers: In contrast to 2005, the previous time anti-Japanese riots flared, China is not the only fast-growing, well-populated, low-cost market around. Back then, Japanese firms hedged their China risk with a “China-plus-one” strategy, implying that they would find an extra Asian supply hub, such as Thailand. Now, that has grown into a wider “China-plus” strategy, because their options these days have widened to include Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and India. (From the Economist’s last but one issue).
Will Laos join the other Asean countries now that it’s in WTO? Unlikely, but its been growing fast (and under the radar) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20078312. Stag Yaw should pop across from Hanoi to check out the
gals biz prospects?
M’sia’s Westport is planning a US$500bn IPO for the first quarter of 2013 reports Reuters. Thirteen companies have raised US$6.4bn so far this year on KLSE making it the 4th biggest IPO mkt after US, China and Japan. And CEO and COO are locals, not FTs like those of SGX.
Thailand’s central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates in an effort to boost domestic demand and sustain growth: key rate to 2.75% from 3%. Analysts mutter about govt pressure on the central bank which is supposed to make independent decisions. Some analysts criticised the move, saying that lower borrowing costs might spur a rise in consumer prices, forcing the bank to reverse its decision as early as the first half of next year.
Japan (one of Asean’s biggest trading partners and source of much FDI is looking to stimulate its economy.
Burma’s president re-appointed party chief but FT and others report tensions in the party. They say this guy is the one to watch: the speaker of parliament who now has been chosen as day-to-day leader of the party: another ex-general. Parly has been causing govt some problems regarding foreign investment laws.
Vietnam’s leaders are unhappy with their PM. Makes investment scene more unstable. And Stag Yaw (remember him?) is trying to do biz there.
From the September issue of the ISEAS ASEAN monitor
“A toxic cocktail” – the words of economist Le Dang Doanh – aptly describe Vietnam’s situation for the fourth quarter of 2012. The ingredients are economic stagnation, banking scandals, political insecurity caused by Party rectification and anti-corruption drives, and challenges to Vietnamese sovereignty in the South China Sea. Party rectification aims to curb abuses of power and corruptive behaviour by government officials in cahoots with businesses to enrich both sides. Politician banker, Nguyen Duc Kien, and the head of the Asia Commercial Bank, Ly Xuan Hai, have been arrested. Notably, while the rumour mill has for years linked Kien to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the Chief of Police has declared that it was the Prime Minister himself who directed the arrests. Earlier reports gave credit to the Minister for Public Security but the order probably came from the Political Bureau.
The arrested pair of Kien and Ly could reveal the extent of illegal activities in the banking sector. Rumours are pointing to imprudent bank loans arranged by Kien, as well as his role in the merger/acquisition of another bank, an act perceived as political bullying. In the next two months there will be an intense struggle over how the official reports regarding Party rectification should be written. Individual leaders would want to avoid blame, and most important, retain their positions. Party rectification would also go down to provincial level and lower. Greater conservatism and caution in officials’ behaviour, if only to avoid making mistakes, leading to riskaversion,is to be expected.
The economy has not lived up to earlier optimism. Imports have decreased and analysts note that this would impact negatively on exports in the next quarter. Credit growth is at an unhealthy low while the burst of the real estate bubble has turned speculation into locked investments. Speculators are not realising losses and banks are unable to recover loans. Close to 100,000 companies, mostly from the private sector, have ceased operations.
On this downward spin, there are yet no signs of external help, be it from a buoyant world economy or the IMF. The stagnation is expected to be relieved slightly as the end of the year usually sees a rise in consumption, but the overall trend is a downward one.
Key points: While Vietnam and China appear to have reached a quiet and uncomfortable détente over the South China Sea, expect more bilateral problems as the fishing season resumes this September.
Vietnam’s banks are in dire shape; and that corruption and waste pervade the economy.
This was never a secret, but during the boom years in the middle of the past decade, when the economy was growing by 8% a year and foreign investment was pouring in, nobody much cared. Now, with slower growth, huge business debts and more competition from places such as Cambodia, Indonesia and Myanmar, the problems loom large. It did not help when, two months ago, the central bank admitted that bad debts amounted to up to 10% of all bank loans, double the level previously admitted to. The real figure could be two or three times that.
The hitch in Hanoi
And so confidence in the Vietnamese economy, especially among Western investors, is tumbling. Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Vietnam, at $8 billion for the first seven months of the year, is a third lower than a year earlier. Japan accounts for fully half of all the inflows.
Why Thaibev and friends are trying to line up S$9bn from banks for a general offer for F&N, and so derail the APB sale.
Problem is that if they win and block the sale, APB could still go to Heinken on worse terms. Heineken has the right of first refusal over the APB shares held by F&N/ Heineken jointly and there is a formula to resolve valuation questions: not based on stk market prices. Meanwhile, Heineken still has mgt control. So far, the Thais have played the game shrewdly, but things could go wrong. And they are highly leveraged.
Asia overtook Europe and the Americas in 2007. In 2011 it drank 67bn litres of beer, to the Americas’ 57bn and 51bn in Europe, according to Euromonitor.
What’s more, as developed markets such as Europe, the US and Australia stagnate, Euromonitor forecasts that beer consumption (by volume) will grow by 4.8% in Asia Pacific every year between 2011 and 2016.
the countries with the biggest growth prospects in the region are Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, where Euromonitor forecasts that volumes drunk will grow at up to 9% per year between 2011 and 2016.
Depositors in Vietnam have withdrawn hundreds of millions of US dollars from one of the country’s largest banks after the arrest of one of its founders. StanChart has a 15% stake in this bank.
The CEO of Asia Commercial Bank, Ly Xuan Hai, has been arrested on suspicion of committing economic crimes.
What this run shows is that:
— Doing biz in Vietnam can be dangerous if the authorities don’t like you.
— Banks like StanChart and HSBC do biz in some dangerous places and their high capital ratios and conservative loan to deposit ratio have a purpose. But really do all three S’pore banks need to be among the 10 safest banks in the world?
VietJetAir, a budget airline. had beauty contestants in bikini-tops dance aboard a plane on its first flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, Tuoi (Waz that?). The airline said it wanted to capture a “holiday atmosphere” for its new flight route to one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations. “Once passengers stepped on board they were met by flight attendants dressed in beach holiday attire [who] performed a sexy Hawaii dance,” it said. BBC article. Authorities were not amused: it was fined for not getting prior approval. Sounds so S’porean, this fine.
Back to the gals in bikini tops: they make S’pore Gal look like auntie: like SIA falling behind its rivals from the Middle East in the premium business, JetAir and AirAsia in the budget segment.
So rather than juz redesign its cabins and seats, as SIA announced last week, time to replace Auntie and rethink strategy?
Its got the brain power. Senior mgt are SIA veterans. There was an attempt a few yrs ago to put a scholar, ex-general as a senior VP with the aim of making him CEO. He didn’t get the job and disappeared without a trace. Thank God, even though he RI boy, as I got one lot of SIA.
Earlier this week FT reported that an online Chinese retailer was trying out manufacturing in Vietnam. At about the same time, CNN reported that Chris Devonshire-Ellis, founding partner of Dezan Shira & Associates in Beijing, which advises firms on foreign direct investment (FDI), as saying,”Companies are starting to think twice before building in China.”
He said the cost of running a factory in Dongguan, China with 300 workers would be about US$2.3 m. The same factory in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam would be US$650,000, and a similar factory in Chennai, India would cost about US$346,000.
“About 50 per cent of our work in Vietnam is setting up factories for companies which have relocated from South China because they want to add more (manufacturing) capacity (in the region), but they don’t want to have Chinese costs. Vietnam and Bangladesh are becoming subsidiary manufacturing nations to make goods for sale in China.”
Earlier this month, the Economist wrote, “Another manufacturing firm [making flags]moved its operations to Vietnam in 2004. “We have to migrate, like herdsmen chasing water and pastures””. Love the way moving to a cheaper place is described.
Vietnam plans to ease rules on equity trading and accelerate initial public offerings (IPOs) of state-owned companies this year to attract investors to a market that’s valued almost 15 times less than Singapore’s.
The State Securities Commission is preparing to cut the minimum holding period for stocks, Nguyen Doan Hung, vice chairman of the commission, said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg on Aug 2. The regulator is also considering widening stock trading bands and starting an online auction system to boost volumes and speed up sales, he said, without specifying when the measures may be started. . The value of stocks changing hands on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange dropped 40% from June. Vietnamese companies only raised about US$10 million from IPOs in the first half of this year. Peanuts.
Vietnamese stocks are valued at about US$37 billion, compared with around US$552 billion in Singapore, South-east Asia’s largest market, even after the benchmark VN Index jumped 19% this year
But Indonesia has a few things going for it:
— two major exports are recession-proof
— lower cost producer of thermal coal and closer to China (tpt costs lower) than Oz means there will still be demand for its coal; and
— palm oil cooking oil is the cheapest cooking oil;
— cheap labour attracting the likes of Foxcomm;
— last yr’s floods in Thailand are prompting MNC manufacturers to a “Thailand + one” strategy; and
— consumption now accounts for two-thirds of gross domestic product in Indonesia.
Malaysia is one of the most vulnerable Asian economies should a “perfect storm” of a disorderly debt default in Europe, a slowdown in China and the United States and rising tensions in the Middle East materialise, Roubini Global Economics said in a recent report.
The research firm, which predicted the 2008 global financial crisis, said Malaysia had the highest exposure to a pullout of capital as its euro zone and US bank claims amount to more than 25% of GDP.
The report said Malaysia was among the lowest ranked in terms of monetary and fiscal capacity to respond to a crisis, coming in ahead of only Thailand, Japan and Indonesia.
“Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam appear to be the most exposed to a perfect storm through their trade and financial linkages, while South Korea, Australia, Vietnam and the Philippines … have the most policy space to offset such an external shock.”
A fish has been discovered in Vietnam that has its genitals on its head.
More details (New Scientist)
(Or “What stocks, ETFs to buy”)
A China slowdown need not be bad for everyone. Mr Frederic Neumann, Regional Economist at HSBC, distinguishes between hard and soft commodities. A Chinese rebalancing could actually be good for soft commodities*, such as wheat and soybeans*, if household spending were to rise.
Brazil’s loss, in other words, could be Argentina’s gain. Other commodities, such as palm oil**, used in processed foods, may also do better.
That could benefit countries such as Malaysia, which has ramped up palm oil*** production in recent years, and Indonesia**** – although the latter also produces hard commodities including coal.
On the other side of the ledger, some big oil importers***** could benefit from the weaker prices that a Chinese slowdown might produce.
*Think Olam, Wilmar, Golden Agri, Bumitama Agri, Kencana Agri and First Resources
**Think Wilmar and the other SGX plantation stocks.
***Think Felda, Sime Darby, United Plantations, IOI, Genting Plt, KL Kepong, TSH, Oriental.
****Think Astra Agro and London Sumatra Indonesia. Any other Indon listed plantations cos to think about? Do remember that the SGX-listed planters are mainly Indonesian planters and many of them are relatively new, giving them an advantage over the older Malaysian plantation players. Malaysian planters have also bought land in Indonesia partly because land in Malaysia is getting too expensive even in East Malaysia.
*****Think ETFs on Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
For the last two years, Mr. Grant, a managing director based in Florida at a regional investment bank, has been predicting the bankruptcy of Greece and a cascade of chaos across the global economy, attracting quite a following on Wall Street in the process.
“Greece will be forced to return to the drachma and devalue, and the default will cause bank runs and money flowing into Germany and the United States as the only viable safe haven bets,” he declared the day before Sunday’s Greek elections, irrespective of which party would win. “Greece will default because there is no other choice regardless of anyone’s politics.” http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/06/18/one-wall-street-seer-says-the-greek-tragedy-is-near/?src=dlbksb.
This recession will hurt emerging markets (Mark Mobius is bullish on them especially Vietnam, a great favourite). And our nation-building constructive media are full of doom and gloom for S’pore if the Eurozone breaks up. Err whatever happened to the scolding that a PAP apologist, Kishore Mahbubani, gave the Lady for visiting Europe implying that she should have visited Asian countries first (he forget she visited Thailand). Well Asia may be rising but Europe is still very, very important. Anyway, he should realise that there is such a thing as gratitude, despite this, “Gratitude is a disease of dogs that is not transmittable to humans”. It was said by a French investment banker after he was ousted from chairmanship of Italian insurer with which he was associated for over 40 years.
Without European support of her cause, she would most likely be dead now. Asian countries didn’t care about her or her cause.
Emerging market guru and value investor Mark Mobius thinks Europe will emerge from its debt crisis intact and stronger than ever.
He believes emerging markets offer the best opportunities for investors. “The average growth this year will be five percent, compared to less than one percent in developed countries. They represent 34 percent of the world’s market capitalization and most people have very little, if anything, in emerging markets”.
His favorite developing economies are Vietnam and Nigeria
American gal sets up internet biz in Cambodia: she sell hair (to be more accurate “hair extensions”) globally http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/05/28/in-cambodia-a-start-up-uses-the-internet-to-sell-hair/
Software dev is big biz in Vietnam
“Ten years ago, you could count the number of IT companies using your fingers,” he says.
Now there are more than 750 software companies employing some 35,000 people. Among them, 150 are outsourcing firms.
Industry sources suggest that Vietnam is currently among the top five outsourcing destinations in Asia.
Vietnamese companies are manufacturing software and games for foreign companies, and are starting to export mobile phone apps overseas.
A young population and cheap labour costs are two major advantages that many start-ups have been tapping. The government in Vietnam has also been very encouraging, seeing information technology as beneficial for the country’s economy.
Charles Speyer, co-founder of Glass Egg Digital Media, a console game art outsourcing company, says the environment has been “very friendly for software companies”.
“We received our licence after less than a week,” he says.
“At Glass Egg we have always had to train our 3D artists, but there are good coders coming straight out of school in Vietnam.”
However Mr Speyer warns that although there is a lot of potential, the innovation industry in Vietnam will take some time to develop because of the inadequate education system.
“The education system is not geared towards creating innovators and that does not seem to be changing any time soon under the current government guidelines.”
So Yaw, the mystery man from Hougang is reported to be in Hanoi. Pity his Mrs because I hear that the gals in Hanoi are pretty horny.
Seriously, if the report in ST is true, he is smart to try his hand there. Vietnam is back on the radar of int’l investors, and Hanoi, is a less competitive, less int’l place than Ho Chi Minh City. Gd place for someone savvy like Yaw.
While until recently, non-manufacturing investors (like “paper” investors, and those who invest in property) have been giving Vietnam a miss because of inflation, problems in the banking sector, and a downturn in property, Vietnam’s economy has continued to grow by about 6% a year. Largely because of manufacturing: 41% of the economy.
MNCs who make things love the country. Vietnam is Nike’s biggest production centre, Intel has a major chip facility. HP has plants here. Samsung will invest US$1.5 billion in an information technology complex that will bring in 30 more related companies. Nokia is investing about US$300 million in a plant for mobile phones.
No wonder, Singapore’s four joint industrial parks in Vietnam have draw investments worth some US$5.3 billion since the first one started in 1996. Per hectare, the parks now attract US$6 million in investments, nearly twice higher than the national average of US$3.5 million.
And no wonder, Sembcorp Industries recently announced that it has obtained approval to proceed with a $337.82 million industrial park and 1,200-megawatt power plant.A Vietnamese-Singapore joint venture involving Sembcorp will develop the industrial park in Quang Ngai Province in central Vietnam, Sembcorp said.
The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park Quang Ngai will comprise a 600-hectare industrial park as well as a 520-hectare site zoned for commercial and residential development. The park will be the Sembcorp-led consortium’s fifth in the country.
Why the other investors are returning to Vietnam:
While Myanmar’s natural resources of oil, gas and minerals are positive factors, there are “areas of concern”, Templeton portfolio manager Dennis Lim wrote in a note last week on chairman Mark Mobius’s blog.
Although Cambodia is “ideally located” to benefit from trade with Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, investors need to study corporate governance standards, he said.
“Weaknesses we’re especially mindful of in Myanmar are lack of a proper legal structure, the lack of a well developed banking system, and the lack of solid foreign exchange operations. In Cambodia, I would caution potential investors to monitor corporate governance standards to ensure investors are treated fairly.”
In Cambodia, state- owned Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority will have its IPO next month, making it the first to be traded on the stock exchange that opened last July without a single listed company.
The Cambodian government has said it wants to spur economic development by selling off state- owned companies and encouraging private enterprises to expand with new funding.
Mr Mobius, who oversees more than US$50 billion in emerging-market assets as executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, has said he’s watching the Cambodian railroad industry “with particular interest'”
Indonesia, whose natural resources include timber and coal, can benefit from increasing global demand for commodities as emerging markets invest in infrastructure, Mr Lim said. Thailand, which suffered its worst floods in almost 70 years in 2011, will have a sound economic recovery and has “positive'” long-term fundamentals, he said.
“For value investors like us, current valuations in Thailand generally remain attractive, though the potential growth obstacles do bear ongoing scrutiny”. He cited agriculture, tourism and offshore gas as drivers of growth.
Interesting, no mention of Vietnam which is now in the dog house because of high inflation and other problems.
Singapore’s stock exchange is a conduit through which Templeton can access new markets because of listings by some companies from the frontier economies, he notes.
So the S’porean MD of Singapore Technologies Telemedia (ST Telemedia), a 100%-owned unit of Temasek, Lee Theng Kiat, is now a president of Temasek, and its general counsel. He is in exalted company as one of the other two presidents was once a contender to be CEO of BoA. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-30/temasek-hires-st-telemedia-s-lee-as-president-general-counsel.html
But it was also reported last week by the wires that Eircom applied for court protection as expected last to allow it to restructure its 3.75 billion euro (S$6.29 billion) debt, a move it said was “necessary and unavoidable”.
The application follows the company’s agreement to support a proposal under which most senior lenders take control of the company from current majority shareholder ST Telemedia and cut its debt by 40 to 50%.
ST Telemedia bought 65% of Eircom in 2009 for 140 million euros in cash and shares. An employee share trust owns the other 35%. Eircom has 4.1 billion euros of gross debt and more than 300 million euros of cash on its balance sheet, giving net debt of around 3.75 billion euros.http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/29/us-eircom-idUSBRE82S14R20120329?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews&rpc=401
Lee was the MD of ST Telemedia when Eircom was purchased.
Well the Communist Party and Government in Vietnam are not so forgiving of executives who goof. Nine top officials have been given tough jail sentences for their role in the near-bankruptcy of one of Vietnam’s largest state-owned companies. Err they were convicted of being directly responsible for a loss of US$43m http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17561109. Peanuts when compared to Euros 140m.
BTW, came across this comment about Merrill Lynch recently, “From July 2007 to July 2008, a total of [US]$19.2 billion vaporized – or [US}$52 million in losses per day!” For the record, Temasek bot into ML in December 2007 and in late July 2008.http://moneymorning.com/2008/07/29/merrill-lynch/
Temasek’s loss ran into billions of US dollars http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124236495798923123.html. The Vietnamese officials would have been hung, drawn and quatered if they had been held responsible for such a loss. Nothing happened to Temasek officials.
Seems sophisticated investors are looking beyond the ‘BRIC’ countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). I’ve seen predictions that by 2020, the “Future 7” (F7) countries (Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam) will account for 1-in-10 global consumers, and per capita disposable income will rise by 52% in real terms. The F7 are characterised by youth and urbanised populations, combined with rising incomes and the expansion of the middle class.
Well two of them are neighbours: Indonesia and Vietnam.
Lippo-Mapletree Reit, First Reit, Berlian Laju and Samudera are Indon plays listed on SGX.
There is one Vietnam play, Latitude.
On you can invest via an EFT listed here.
Go do yr homework. You might make money without investing on a foreign exchange.
BTW I got some Lippo-Mapletree.
Vietnam is a hot market among investors in frontier markets. It has a growing, and hard working and cheap work force, a large domestic market, and is liberalising its economic policies, welcoming foreign investors. Manufacturers are seeing it as a place to supplement or complement their China operations.Deficits are relatively modest, and it has not been in international financial markets long enough yet to rack up any serious i.o.u.’s.
But locals don’t trust the government.
What makes them nervous is the suspicion that the governing Communist Party will do anything to hit its economic growth target before a party congress early next year, even if that means letting inflation get out of control.
They are buying US$ and gold whenever they can.
So many dollars have been scooped up, in fact, that the country’s central bank, the State Bank of Vietnam, is at risk of running out, analysts warn. Any shock, like a double-dip global recession that hurts exports or foreign investment, and Vietnam could find itself without enough dollars to pay for crucial imports like fuel, they say.
“The question mark at this point is whether the dollars will come in,” said Ngiam Ai Ling, director of Asian sovereign ratings at Fitch Ratings in Singapore, which warned in March that it might cut Vietnam’s rating, already below what the agency deems investment grade.
NYT article on this and other problems, as well as what’s gd abt Vietnam.
What are they?
Frontier investing is a new-enough phenomenon that professionals disagree on which countries make up the sector. Different managers and index providers include different names. The Claymore E.T.F., for example, has Chile and Poland among its top five holdings, though neither is part of the MSCI Frontier Index. The index includes such diverse countries as Argentina, Romania, Kenya and Kazakhstan. It rose 0.66 percent, including dividends, in the first six months this year, compared with a negative total return of 7.57 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. The frontier index has been helped along by positive returns in three of its important markets — Nigeria, Kuwait and Qatar.
Almost everyone, including MSCI, puts Nigeria in the frontier category … “ … the next Brazil?’ it’s Nigeria,” because it also has a large population and a huge base of natural resources.”.
Many but not all of the frontier countries are richly endowed with commodities. As expected from economies on four continents, they’re diverse. Kazakhstan, for example, unearths oil, metals and mineral, while Argentina sells soybeans, corn and wheat. Vietnam excels at manufacturing.
Because of this diversity, their stock returns tend not to move in lock step with those in developed and emerging markets.
“We view frontier markets as attractively valued compared with emerging markets. They didn’t participate in the huge run-up in 2009 that you saw in the emerging markets.”
Some frontier countries remain more vulnerable to corruption and political crises than the typical developed market
“In the bear market, they got hit hard, so it’s not that they’re protected.”
ANYONE who believes that frontier markets will rise relentlessly should recall 1978 … That was when Time magazine named Deng Xiaoping, who led the overhaul of China’s economy, as its Man of the Year.
“That’s when the world came to the idea that China was opening, and that’s quite a few years ago Since then, the economy has boomed, but the stock market has been on a roller coaster — sagging, for example, during and after the Asian financial crisis that began in 1997. … a lot of these trends are true, but you can go through periods of sharp volatility.”
More competition for our IRs and remember Taiwan, Cambodia and the Philippines want their slice of the cash too.
Developers set sights on Vietnam gambling strip
A Canadian development group, backed by Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners, has appointed an MGM Mirage executive to run the first Las Vegas-style casino in Vietnam, in the latest sign of gaming expansion in Asia.
Vietnam has been targeted by developers looking to replicate the success of Macao, which attracted billions of dollars of investment from the casino industry.
Vietnam has only issued one gaming licence and plans to make a resort casino the centrepiece of the US$4.2bn Ho Tram strip resort complex on beachfront land 130 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City.
Asian Coast Development Limited of Canada won the licence and has appointed Lloyd Nathan, the president of MGM Mirage global gaming development, as chief executive. ACDL and MGM Mirage have struck a deal to name the new property the MGM Grand Ho Tram.
“The Ho Tram project represents one of the most compelling investment opportunities in the integrated casino resort industry,” said Mr Falcone, chief executive of Harbinger, which is ACDL’s largest investor.
Mr Nathan has led MGM Mirage’s overseas efforts during a period of international expansion for the group and other gaming operators. “The Ho Tram Strip is set to become the pre-eminent gaming and leisure destination in south-east Asia,” he said, adding that Vietnam was developing a “positive regulatory framework and competitive tax structure”.
Jean Chrétien, the former Canadian prime minister, and an adviser of ACDL, played a key role in putting the Vietnam project together, Mr Nathan said.
Like its rivals, MGM Mirage,has been keen to find new international markets to sustain its growth after the recession and the economic slowdown hit returns in its home US market.
FT report in late April.