Vietnam’s Coffee King comes down from the mountain

By Thi Ha, Anh Tu   June 18, 2018 | 04:55 pm PT
CEO of Trung Nguyen Coffee put in an unannounced appearance and asked company staff to ‘revolutionize’ themselves.

The CEO of Vietnam’s top coffee brand, Trung Nguyen, put in a surprise appearance at a company event on Saturday, after “disappearing” for almost five years.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, known as the Coffee King of Vietnam, had stayed away from public eye amidst a lengthy divorce process with his wife that is yet to end.

Vu, who had nurtured Trung Nguyen Coffee and taken it to 60 international markets, amazed participants at the company event by turning up without prior notice.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, CEO of Trung Nguyen Coffee, unexpectedly shows up at a companys event on June 16. Photo by To Thanh Tan

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, CEO of Trung Nguyen Coffee, unexpectedly shows up at a company's event on June 16. Photo by To Thanh Tan

The CEO exhorted Trung Nguyen’s leaders and staff to do everything differently from other companies in the world.

“Brothers and sisters, you have to start by revolutionizing yourselves,” he said in a short speech.

Trung Nguyen must aim to become the number one coffee brand in the world, establishing its presence everywhere, he said.

Vu said he had spent the last five years meditating up in the mountains and now had answers to “all the questions in this world.”

The unannounced appearance of Vu has gathered a lot of public and media attention, particularly because his wife, Le Hoang Diep Thao, recently accused four leaders of Trung Nguyen Coffee for misusing their power to manipulate her husband’s company while he was away.

Thao, who owns another coffee brand, King Coffee, said that incorrect information had been spread on social media to slander her husband, who was too sick to appear in public.

“These leaders did this to manipulate Trung Nguyen for their personal gain,” she said.

The divorce proceedings between Vu and Thao, who used to be the deputy director of Trung Nguyen, had also caught public attention in 2015, when they took each other to court, each accusing the other of obstructing the company’s operations.

Vu and Thao have also been embroiled in a lengthy and costly legal battle for years over the ownership of Trung Nguyen Group, which has a charter capital of VND1.5 trillion ($65.8 million).

Thao was a minority shareholder of the company until Vu ousted her in 2015.

The court has not officially settled the divorce petition.

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