How did Vietnam’s four richest people earn their billions?

By Minh Son   March 7, 2018 | 11:24 pm PT
Want to make money? Property, aviation, steel and cars look like the way forward.

Four Vietnamese business people have made it onto Forbes' list of the world's richest people this year.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao (L) and Pham Nhat Vuong.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao (L) and Pham Nhat Vuong.

Pham Nhat Vuong

Pham Nhat Vuong, owner of real estate conglomerate Vingroup and Vietnam's first billionaire, enjoyed his sixth consecutive appearance on the list, ranking as the world's 499th richest person this year. Vuong also retained his position as Vietnam's richest man with a net worth of $4.3 billion, a $1.9 billion increase from last year.

Vuong's success in the property market spans 17 years since he moved back to Vietnam from the Ukraine where he produced and traded instant noodles.

The real estate mogul has expanded his business to provide clients with a wide range of products and services. They can “live in Vinhomes, study at Vinschool, shop in Vinmart, check their health in Vinmec and spend their vacations at Vinpearl.” Last year, the corporation expanded into car manufacturing with an auto company in Hai Phong Province.

With capitalization of over $11.4 billion, Vingroup is one of Vietnam’s largest conglomerates.

Vingroup recorded revenue of over VND90 trillion (nearly $4 billion) in 2017, up 57 percent from the previous year. The group earned pre-tax profits of VND8.9 trillion ($391 million) last year, which mainly came from property trade.

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao

CEO of budget carrier VietJet Air Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao made her second appearance on the list as the 766th richest person in the world. Vietnam's richest woman has an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion, nearly three times her wealth when she made her debut appearance last year with $1.2 billion.

Contrary to her small stature and love of music, Thao has become known as the "Iron Lady" in the business world, holding top positions in companies with high growth rates.

The self-made billionaire spent six years reshaping the industry by making flying more affordable. VietJet has become one of the leading airlines in the local market with brand awareness of 90 percent.

"We want to make VietJet the Emirates of Asia," Thao told Bloomberg in an interview in 2016.

With 52 aircraft, VietJet saw passenger transportation revenue exceeding VND4 trillion in the last quarter of 2017.

Tran Dinh Long (L) and Tran Ba Duong

Tran Dinh Long (L) and Tran Ba Duong

Tran Dinh Long

Tran Dinh Long, 57, has been named the world's 1756th richest person with a net worth of $1.3 billion. Dubbed the “King of Steel” in Vietnam, Long chairs Hoa Phat Corporation, the biggest steel maker in the country. Started as an equipment and parts distributor in 1992, his company is now the leading provider of office equipment, steel pipes and construction steel. Long has also ventured into other industries, including real estate and agriculture.

Not wanting to become of a subject of debate, Long rarely makes media statements. Shareholders in Hoa Phat only see him at the company’s annual meeting. 

As a decisive businessman, Long can solve fierce debates between Hoa Phat’s management board and shareholders on business plans and remuneration policies.

In 2017, Hoa Phat reached a revenue of VND46.4 trillion and a record post-tax profit of VND8 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 21 percent. 

Hoa Phat’s shares have jumped over the past three months, which is one of the reasons for Long's appearance on the Forbes list. The chairman now holds more than 380 million shares of Hoa Phat (HPG).

Tran Ba Duong

Tran Ba Duong, chairman of Truong Hai Auto Corporation (Thaco), was ranked 1339th on the list with a net worth of $1.8 billion. Thaco, in which Duong’s family owns more than 70 percent, ranks second on a list of Vietnam’s 500 biggest private enterprises, although it is not listed on the local stock market.

He founded Thaco in 1997 and the company later started assembling cars for foreign brands such as Kia, Mazda and Peugeot, as well as producing its own buses and trucks. Thaco became the biggest car company in Vietnam with a 32 percent share in the automobile market in 2016, according to Forbes.

Thaco has worked on joint ventures with Mazda and Kia to set up large factories in Southeast Asia to corner the market and boost exports. Thaco has rapidly developed into a giant in the local automotive sector.

According to Thaco’s financial report for Q3, 2017, the firm had made a post-tax profit of VND17 trillion.

Click on the image to enlarge. Graphics by Tien Thanh

Click on the image to enlarge. Graphics by Tien Thanh

go to top