Coteccons head downplays takeover claims

By Phuong Dong   April 23, 2021 | 05:14 pm PT
Coteccons head downplays takeover claims
Bolat Duisenov, chairman of Coteccons, seen at the company's headquarter in Ho Chi Minh City on April 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
The new head of Vietnamese construction giant Coteccons has downplayed foreign takeover rumors, saying the company is restructuring towards reclaiming its big cap reputation on the stock market.

"The last six months were not easy for me personally and for the board as well as all Coteccons employees," chairman Bolat Duisenov told VnExpress. "But we have renewed our vision, and made every decision by answering one question: how will this help the company grow in the long run."

Duisenov, a Kazakhstani, took over the construction giant in October last year from founder Nguyen Ba Duong who left the company after 17 years.

The company was recovering from a spate of conflicts with Singapore-based construction firm Kustocem at that time. Kustocem owns an 18.23 percent stake in Coteccons. The leadership of Coteccons had accused the Singaporean firm of launching a hostile takeover bid, then.

After Duisenov took over, the board deployed a major restructuring of the company, focusing on the four key areas of human resource development, operations, customers and finances.

"What we are most proud of is being able to retain talents and attract new ones while helping them work well with each other."

It was a challenging task as over 600 employees had left Coteccons last year. Duisenov said those who left were not able to adjust to the changes, while those who stayed proved that they were willing to tackle new obstacles.

Commenting on the talk around town that Coteccons is being taken over by foreigners. Duisenov asserted that the company continued to be "very Vietnamese."

Its erstwhile leaders left for personal reasons and there was no takeover agenda, he said, adding that although there were some foreigners on the management board, most of the staff were Vietnamese and working to build up a Vietnamese brand that will have a place in the global market.

The dispute between Coteccons and Kustocem had sent its CTD shares plunging in recent years. It was down 70 percent from its November 2017 value at VND67,000 ($2.9) Friday.

Duisenov attributed the fall to months of not being able to sign new contracts, adding that the CTD shares were being undervalued, considering its improved financial figures.

In December last year, the company had targeted VND4 trillion worth of new contracts, but managed VND6 trillion and this has risen to VND10 trillion now, he added.

The company, which had been operating without debt for years, plans to break the tradition by issuing VND500 billion worth of shares.

Duisenov said although the company still has over VND3 trillion in cash, it plans to expand into more infrastructure projects in the future, which requires large amounts capital. Therefore, it is looking to raise money early, he added.

The chairman also said that he hopes to steer the company in new directions.

Coteccons has always been known as a builder of office and apartment buildings, which makes it dependent on the fluctuations in the real estate market, he said.

Duisenov noted that construction giants all over the world have diverse growth pillars, like infrastructure, airports and other types of real estate. Therefore, he said, he plans to diversify the company into more areas and once again make CTD a blue chip ticker on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange.

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