Comrades: Vietnam’s two new billionaires have ‘intertwined’ interests

By Minh Son   March 6, 2019 | 06:06 am PT
Two new Vietnamese names on Forbes magazine’s 2019 billionaire list are long-standing business partners.

Nguyen Dang Quang and Ho Hung Anh are "close business partners whose interests are intertwined," Forbes says.

Both Quang and Anh belong to the batch of Vietnamese students who studied in Russia and Eastern Europe in the 1980s.

Together they control two big listed companies, Masan Group, a food producer, and Techcombank, a commercial bank, through Masan JSC, a holding company that they co-own.

Quang has an MBA degree from the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics and doctorate degree from the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

He returned to Vietnam and worked for Vietnam's Academy of Sciences before joining the private sector in the 1990s.

Nguyen Dang Quang is the chairman of Masan Group. Photo courtesy of Forbes Vietnam

Nguyen Dang Quang is the chairman of Masan Group. Photo courtesy of Forbes Vietnam

When he saw an opportunity to sell instant noodles to the Vietnamese community in Russia in 1996, he came back to Russia and built an instant noodle factory capable of producing 30 million packets a month, and then expanded into fish sauce and chili sauce.

After his success in Russia, Quang returned to Vietnam in 2001 and founded Masan in 2004 with a charter capital of VND3.2 trillion ($137.51 million).

The company is now a major producer of fish sauce and packaged food. An estimated 95 percent of households in Vietnam use at least one Masan consumer product, according to market research firm Kantar Worldpanel Vietnam.

Ho Hung Anh became Quang’s partner when they were still in Russia. Anh started out trading goods between Eastern Europe and Vietnam in the 1990s, and became a shareholder of Techcombank in 1995, the same year Quang became the deputy CEO of the bank.

Anh himself became the deputy CEO of Techcombank in 2006 and chairman in 2008.

Ho Hung Anh is the chairman of Techcombank. Photo acquired by VnExpress

Ho Hung Anh is the chairman of Techcombank. Photo acquired by VnExpress

While other banks focus on popular areas such as consumer loan or the retail sector, Anh has cultivated large customers, like Vingroup, state-owned Vietnam Airlines and Masan, which owns about a 20 percent stake of the bank.

By advancing into the corporate bond market and providing loans to large real estate companies, the bank has been able to post higher profit margins with less risks.

Techcombank was the first private bank in Vietnam to cross the VND10 trillion ($429.82 million) after tax profit mark.

Last year, the bank’s after tax profit was VND8.46 trillion ($363.48 million), second only to that of Vietcombank.

Apart from Quang and Anh, three other billionaires who were listed last year remain on this year’s list: Pham Nhat Vuong, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao and Tran Ba Duong.

Tran Dinh Long, chairman of steel maker Hoa Phat Corporation, was not listed this year after making his debut last year.

Amazon’s chief Jeff Bezos remains the richest person in the world this year with a net worth of $131 billion, followed by Microsoft's co-founder Bill Gates at $96.5 billion and Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffet at $82.5 billion.

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