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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 25/11   2008-11-25 - VNA

HSBC named best bank in 2008

The Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) has been named Best Bank in Vietnam by The Asset Magazine in its Triple A Country Awards for 2008 for excellence in banking and finance within Asia .

This is the second time the bank has been recognised with the award, after scooping it in 2006.

“HSBC is very proud to be named Best Bank in Vietnam for its achievements from October 2007 to September 2008,” said Thomas Tobin, President and CEO of HSBC in Vietnam .

Winning the award for the second time confirms customers’ trust in HSBC as well as showing recognition from independent industry leaders for its world-class products and services and ongoing commitment to excellence, he added.

The award recognised a chain of HSBC’s achievements in 2008, including being one of the first foreign banks to obtain a licence for local incorporation and the first foreign bank to increase its stake in a local joint stock bank to 20 percent, namely in the Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Techcombank), one of the largest and best managed joint stock banks in Vietnam.

HSBC Vietnam is now the country’s largest foreign bank in terms of investment capital, transaction network, varieties of products and the numbers of staff and custormers.

The Asset Magazine selected the award winners according to their financial performance, size of operation, spread of business, investment banking performance, corporate and transaction banking performance, contributions to the domestic market and client testimonials.

Index treads water on low demand

The VN-Index largely held its ground in Nov. 24’s trading on the HCM Stock Exchange, although demand remained sluggish.

The VN-Index shed a mere 1.03 points, or 0.32 percent, to close at 317.93. but trading volume dropped a substantial 30.8 percent from the previous trading day. Only about 13 million shares changed hands, for a turnover of 354.27 billion VND (21.5 million USD).

Most codes saw minimal activity, except for Sacombank (STB), with orders for 2.75 million shares.

Among blue chips, FPT, Vincom Joint Stock Co (VIC) and PetroVietnam Drilling (PVD) increased slightly, while PetroVietnam Finance (PVF), Pha Lai Thermal Power (PPC) and Vinamilk (VNM) all declined.

Foreign investor transaction levels were also modest, with 1.6 million units sold and only 605,000 shares bought. Net sales values reached 27.7 billion VND (1.7 million USD) for the day.

The Vietnam International Securities (VIS) analyst department said that investors remained unconvinced by recent Government efforts – such as prime rate cuts – to support the domestic market and economy but were paying a great deal of attention to global developments.

“There’s little motive for the market to go up this week,” said VIS analysts. “The US economy faces recession and needs more rescue plans.”

“The market is still in a downward trend, as the world financial crisis, especially the US situation, has not seen a clear way out,” wrote Dai Viet Securities in a report. “However, it is not likely that the market will slump sharply further; an overly depressed market would stimulate investors ‘greed’.

The An Binh Securities analysis department expected the VN-Index to be steady, ranging between 313 and 342 this week. It noted that the market was still feeling significant pressure from foreign investor sales.

“The only bright point for the market in the current downtrend is the improvement in trading values,” said a Hanoi Securities report. “This shows that many investors are waiting for opportunities and ready to enter the market.

In Hanoi Nov. 24, the HASTC-Index also held steady, gaining a mere 0.59 percent to end the day at 104.51 points. About 7.5 million shares changed hands for a total value of nearly 159 billion VND (9.6 million USD).

Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) led the northern market but with only 792,000 shares, followed by Kim Long Securities (KLS) with 732,000 shares traded.

Investment bank finances coffee export

The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) will provide a loan of 800 billion VND for the Tay Nguyen Coffee Import-Export Co. to support the latter’s export activities.

The coffee exporter said on Nov. 24 that BIDV’s loan is expected to facilitate its activities amid coffee prices’ fluctuations and upheavals in the world financial market.

The Tay Nguyen Coffee Import-Export Co. is one of the world’s leading Robusta coffee exporters, with its average export volume reaching 160,000 tonnes a year.

The company plans to ship abroad 200,000 tonnes of coffee in the 2008-2009 crop.

Local banking service provider scoops int’l award

Kieu Hoi Dong A (East Asia Remittance), a subsidiary of the East Asian Joint Stock Bank has been presented with an award for the “Best support in Product launch” by the US-based company MoneyGram, the world’s leading payment services provider.

At a workshop attended by MoneyGram’s agents in the Asia-Pacific region, the company presented the award to the eight partners that provided the most effective assistance throughout the launch of its new MoneyGram service. Kieu Hoi Dong A was the sole Vietnamese partner to receive the award.

In August of this year, Kieu Hoi Dong A and MoneyGram agreed to cooperate in the launch of a new door-to-door money transfer service.

Manpower establishes partnership with MoLISA

Manpower Inc., a world-leading employment services provider, has entered into a partnership with the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) in order to create employment opportunities and stimulate economic development in Vietnam .

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) formalising the three-year partnership was signed between Manpower and MoLISA representatives in Hanoi on Nov. 24.

Under the MoU, Manpower and MoLISA will jointly implement a pilot project regarding employment services, in addition to organising a series of seminars and research programmes to promote the exchange of information covering international practices and experiences.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, David Arkless, Manpower’s Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, said this partnership is a tremendous milestone as it combines Manpower’s global expertise in labour markets and employment services with MoLISA’s thorough knowledge and insight of Vietnam ’s labour market policies.

According to David Arkless, Manpower made the decision to invest in Vietnam following the country’s recent rapid economic development and its increasingly important future role on both regional and global stages.

Manpower’s investment in Asia ’s most dynamic emerging economy will generate numerous sustainable jobs for those in need, he added.

MoLISA Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Hoa expressed his hope that this cooperation with Manpower will help Vietnam to build a skilled and competitive labour force, thus increasing its attractiveness to foreign investors.

Manpower Vietnam plans to open its head office in Hanoi .

Manpower Inc., which owns total assets of 21 billion USD, has a network of 4,500 offices in 80 countries and territories worldwide.

French strategic partner assists SeABank

France ’s Societe Generale, strategic partner of the Southeast Asian Joint Stock Commercial Bank (SeABank), has provided a team of experts to assist the latter in business administration and risk control procedures.

According to the SeABank, Societe Generale will also assist the SeABank’s in the formulation of strategies to improve its services, expand its networks and ensure the professional development of its personnel.

This move is part of an agreement on comprehensive strategic cooperation and technical assistance between the SeABank and Societe Generale.

In August 2008, the French bank, one of Europe ’s leading financial and banking groups, officially became the SeABank’s strategic partner, purchasing a 15 percent stake in the Southeast Asian bank.

With a 144-year history, the Societe Generale Bank now owns total assets of over 1.68 trillion USD, employs 150,000 staff, and can boast 30 million clients and a network covering 85 countries worldwide.

Despite the global financial crisis, the bank posted post-tax revenues of 1.74 billion Euro (2.6 billion USD) for the first half of 2008.

Hai Phong port strives for 13.8 million tonnes of cargo

Hai Phong port is trying to handle 13.8 million tonnes of cargo by the year-end to gain 860 billion VND in turnover ( 16.6 percent higher than the initially-set target) , according to the Hai Phong Port One-Member Ltd. Company.

The company is expected to contribute 46.1 billion VND to state budget and invest 253 billion VND in production development.

To achieve the objective, the port authotity plans to renovate and reorganise production and management toward specialisation so as to meet the port’s development requirements in line with the market mechanism.

They also plan to build a new model for the port on Dinh Vu peninsula. According, the company has invested 185 billion VND in a number of construction works; expanded the application of information technology in port management, exploitation and security in order to raise the port’s competitiveness against the regional ones.

Forits efforts, Hai Phong port has become an official member of the International Sea Port Association, which is expected to facilitate its integration into the regional and international economy.

Online payments open nation to e-commerce

A new online payment portal, PayNet, is set to open up the world of e-commerce in Vietnam after being launched at a ceremony on Nov. 22.

Paynet chief executive officer Nguyen Chien Thang, said he was optimistic about the development of the online payment system in Vietnam over the next few years.

Vietnam currently boasts more than 60 million mobile subscribers, 15 million bank accounts and more than 20 million people access and use the internet. That means huge potential for online payment service providers, he said.

Paynet online payment portal, which could be reached at http://netcash.paynet.vn , will function similarly to Paypal in the United States , which has more than 160 million accounts globally, or to Chinese Alipay that has around 100 million online payment accounts.

In order to ensure the privacy and security of sellers and buyers, the portal is made based on OpenWay’s Way4 technology. Buyers can make online transactions via the portal without having bank accounts, Visa and Master Card like other portals in Vietnam .

Each customer will set up an account with a private code number, to be able to do online shopping. All the money that buyers put into the account will be deposited into banks after being transferred to sellers. All transactions will be followed up with email or SMS mobile phone message.

Present, the portal is on a trial run at e-commerce floor www.hlink.vn .

Thang said he hoped the portal would soon become a standard system and would make an active contribution to fostering the development of online payments in the country.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, 30 of the country’s 63 cities and provinces have approved e-commerce development plans, and a number of leading international firms in the field of electronic payment systems have targeted the Vietnamese market.

The expansion of e-commerce has been made easier by the creation of a legal framework. The Law on Electronic Payments was passed in 2006. The Government also issued Decree No. 57/2006/ND-CP stipulating that electronic documents have the same legal validity as traditional paper documents. The decree applies to all commercial activities such as soliciting and accepting offers and signing and implementing contracts.

The e-commerce sector, however, still has hurdles to overcome. They include poor network security, a common distrust of e-commerce among the general population, a relatively new and untested legal framework, and the lack of a comprehensive and reliable goods delivery system.

100,000 tonnes of rice be exported to Malaysia

 
Vietnam Southern Food Copt., Vinafood II, will export 100,000 tonnes of 5-percent-broken rice to Malaysia at the price of 460 USD per tonne, according to a contract it has concluded.

Under the contract, the largest one in the last two months, the rice will be delivered between now and December with the seller paying the freight (CF).

Vietnamese free-on-board (FOB) rice of the same quality has recently been offered at between 390-400 USD per tonne, compared to 380 USD per tonne early last week.



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BUSINESS IN BRIEF 24/11   2008-11-24