Steelmaker Hoa Sen’s chairman to become Buddhist monk in 2026

By Phuong Dong   January 26, 2021 | 07:55 am GMT+7
Steelmaker Hoa Sen’s chairman to become Buddhist monk in 2026
Hoa Sen Group’s chairman Le Phuoc Vu at a meeting on January 21, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Phuong Dong.
Hoa Sen Group founder and chairman Le Phuoc Vu has said he will remain involved with the operations of the steel giant until he enters monastic life in 2026.

When they become a monk, by "leaving home", people shave off their hair, declare their commitment to Buddhism, renounce one’s family and worldly life to diligently practice Buddhism in a purer place such as a pagoda.

At Hoa Sen Group’s recent annual general meeting, Vu denied rumors he was no longer involved with the operations of the company that began after he attended a ceremony to take refuge in the Three Jewels last July.

The ceremony is an important ritual for people who accept Buddhism. It does not require a person to become a renunciate or live in a pagoda.

"Though I stay up in the mountains and return once a month, I do not miss anything [in the operation of the company]," Vu said.

This also helps his executives learn to manage the company on their own, he said, pointing out that a good leader does not only help a company grow but also nurtures the next generation of leaders.

All procurement contracts still have to be personally approved by him since he has not entrusted this responsibility to other executives just yet, he said.

Every day he calls vice chairman Tran Ngoc Chu to discuss and direct operations, he assured shareholders.

He said he plans to quit the company in 2026 to become a monk but until then would work closely with its board and find a successor before then.

"I will most definitely leave home after that, and live the virtuous life of a Buddhist practitioner. I will leave when I have fulfilled my responsibilities, not because I want to cash out."

Vu, 58, revealed he has had an abiding desire to become a monk since he was 30.

He bought some land in Bao Loc Town in Lam Dong Province in 1996 and built a pagoda to prepare for this eventual move.

He had stopped desiring material things for a long time, and his main values in life are now mental and spiritual, and material objects only serve as tools and are not an end in themselves, Vu said.

"At an appropriate time, I will sell all my shares to investors who are committed to developing Hoa Sen."

Shift in focus

Vu announced that the company would no longer focus on manufacturing corrugated iron, steel and plastic pipes, but move towards becoming a distributor of building materials and interior decoration items.

While it would continue to produce whatever it already does, it would not expand production capacity but would invest in opening new Hoa Sen Home stores and upgrading existing ones, he said.

It plans to invest 5-30 percent of its capital in companies that supply products like paints and ceramic tiles, he said.

It targets revenues of VND33 trillion ($1.43 billion) this year and post-tax profits of VND1.5 trillion, 20 percent and 30 percent higher than in 2020, he revealed.

But this does not take into account the expansion of its building materials stores chain, which could result in better financials if the plans are achieved, he said.

HSG targets having 1,200 stores in the next three to five years and revenues of $3 billion and post-tax profits of VND3 trillion.

Two companies that Vu owns sold stakes in Hoa Sen last year. In fact, one of them, Hoa Sen Holdings Group, last month sold its remaining 9.7 percent stake. It had owned 24.32 percent at the beginning of the year but had sold on three earlier occasions before completing the divestment.

Vu personally owns 16.72 percent.

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