Companies - April 7, 2022 | 09:48 pm PT

From a humble start to Vietnam’s newest billionaire

Starting out with a small investment in animal medicine, Bui Thanh Nhon, founder and chairman of NovaGroup, has ended up as Vietnam’s latest member of the billionaire club.

Bui Thanh Nhon, Vietnam’s newest billionaire in the 2022 Forbes list. Photo courtesy of Novaland Group

The 64-year-old this week became one of the seven richest people in Vietnam and found a place in the Forbes list of the world’s richest people with a net worth of $2.9 billion. That ranks him fourth in Vietnam and 1,053rd globally.

Nhon, who hails from the southern province of Dong Thap, began his career in 1992 by setting up a VND400-million ($17,500) company to produce veterinary medicines.

In 2007, he restructured it to create NovaGroup, which included veterinary medicine and agricultural company Anova Corp and property developer Novaland Group.

His first development was Sunrise City in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7, which he launched amid plunging house prices after the 2008 crisis.

While his competitors were weakened and some even disappeared from the market, he turned to mergers and acquisitions to expand his land holdings, and owned dozens of large housing complexes in HCMC by 2016.

The same year he listed Novaland on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, making it the second biggest property firm on the bourse.

From 2017 until now, NVL was in the VN30 basket of the 30 largest capped stocks in the country.

He also took his Nova brand overseas and listed its shares on the Singapore Exchange and received funding from Credit Suisse AG and Standard Chartered among others.

By the end of last year NovaGroup comprised eight companies, including convenience store chain NovaCommerce and the firm that succeeded Anova Corp in the veterinary medicine and animal feed industries, NovaConsumer.

Last year NovaConsumer expanded into consumer goods with the goal of providing a complete ecosystem of products from feed to food.

It reported a profit of VND300 billion last year and hopes to quintuple it by 2026.

Other subsidiaries of NovaGroup include NovaRetail, which operates restaurants and coffee shops, NovaLifestyle, which manages hotels and entertainment facilities, and NovaCommunity, which is into education and healthcare.

Novaland has always been regarded by securities companies as having huge growth potential.

At the end of last year, analysts at ACB Securities forecast that the company would benefit from rising demand for a second home and hospitality facilities in the southern localities of Vung Tau, Phan Thiet and near Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai Province.

Analysts at VNDirect said Novaland would benefit from the recovery in the hospitality real estate market and see high revenue growth even if legal obstacles lead to delays in developing projects.

Novaland owns over 5,400 hectares of land across the country, and proposes to use them for building urban complexes and hospitality and industrial real estate development.

Between 2021 to 2025 three major projects, Aqua City, NovaWorld Phan Thiet and NovaWorld Ho Tram, are expected to fetch the company profits of VND77 trillion.

NVL now has a market cap of nearly VND164 trillion and assets of VND324 trillion.

Staff reporters