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US company pulls out of key airport project   2010-05-23 - VIR

US-based Rockingham Asset Management LLC has withdrawn from the Van Don international airport project in Quang Ninh province, home to Ha Long Bay, handing the investment opportunity to a Korean company. 

The American company reported to Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee that it “didn’t have enough financial ability and human resources” to pursue the project, said Van Don Economic Zone Management Authority director Tran Duc Lam.

Van Don international airport is a key infrastructure project in the Van Don Economic Zone, close to UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay, that the government would like to develop as an international trade centre and a high-class tourism and entertainment hub to serve the development of the key northern economic region.

Rockingham’s withdrawal ends more than a year of studying and pursuing this project by the American company. Apart from Van Don international airport, Rockingham remains involved in a golf course and five-star resort complex in the Van Don Economic Zone.

“Mobilising funds for the airport might be more costly and complicated than they [Rockingham leaders] first thought. Thus, they have decided to stop pursuing this project to focus on the resort complex,” said Lam.
Lam added the withdrawal of Rockingham would interrupt the airport’s development because the provincial authorities would have to spend time selecting and negotiating with potential new investors.

Right after Rockingham announced its withdrawal from the project, Korea’s Joinus Company proposed to invest in the airport. Joinus also had a meeting with Quang Ninh province’s leaders to discuss the airport investment.

The Korean company proposed to invest $2 billion into Van Don international airport and an expressway connecting the Van Don Economic Zone with Ha Long city. Previously, Rockingham calculated total investment capital of the airport would be about $2.3 billion.

Lam said the local authorities welcomed Joinus Company’s investment proposal but added that the final decision would belong to the Vietnamese government. However, Joinus Company will have three months to demonstrate its financial capacity and complete construction plans for appraisal.

“In general, we would like the construction of the airport to start as soon as possible because it will help to attract more investors and tourists to Quang Ninh,” said Lam. Located about 150 kilometres northeast of Hanoi and bordering China, Quang Ninh has lured many foreign investors.

Last month, US-based Emerging Market Group proposed the development of a $3 billion tourism project in the province, including a 2,000 room five-star hotel, a golf course, an international convention centre and a gaming facility for foreigners.

United Arab Emirates’s Limitless, a business arm of Dubai World, is also investing in the $500 million Ha Long Star project in Quang Ninh. 

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