Vingroup: A Closer Look at Vietnam’s Real Estate Giant

Real Estate - Saigon/HCMC: May 8, 2017

Name a major player in Vietnam’s real estate sector. You might think of HCMC-based Novaland, but the biggest name in the field is headquartered in eastern Hanoi: Vingroup. A look at Vingroup’s revenues alone doesn’t do justice to how large the company is. You need context.

If Vingroup’s stocks were traded on a US securities exchange, its 75 percent year-on-year growth would win it a place on Fortune’s list of top 100 fastest growing companies.

vingroup-buildingImage source: Vingroup

In 2016, the company reported almost doubling its revenue from the year prior after posting nearly the same banner year in 2015. It also made a splash on the world stage in December with its Vinhomes Central Park development, which was decorated with regional and global awards.

An obvious question arises: how?

Walking with Giants

It becomes an easier question to answer once you look at the broad range of sectors that Vingroup’s assets cover. The group’s holds nearly 1,000 stores, 1 million square metres of retail space, and a group of over 100 other properties across the country that serve as hospitals, resorts and entertainment destinations. Almost any imaginable need could be served by a Vingroup asset.

“I think their strategy is just world domination,” Deputy Managing Director of Savills Vietnam Troy Griffiths said with a laugh. “They’re just a very interesting animal.”

Vingroup’s meteoric rise is a credit to the company’s executives, experts say.

vincom center

“It’s attributed to the great leadership of the chairman,” Viet Capital Securities researchers said in an interview citing the company’s origin story.

Vingroup founder Pham Nhat Vuong started food-processing company Technocom in Ukraine. By the time food giant Nestlé acquired it in 2009 for US$150 million, Vuong had broken ground on his first major projects in Vietnam, Vinpearl Resort in Nha Trang and Vincom City Towers, which opened in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Vingroup would be formed in 2007.

Today, Vuong is one of the wealthiest individuals in the nation, and the company he started is one of the largest in Vietnam.

The story’s “prodigal son” theme – a journey abroad followed by homecoming and success – is nuanced by the fact that Vingroup’s profile has extended to the world stage. In 2013, the company became the first to attract international investment from US private equity firm Warburg Pincus. The company has invested US$300 million in Vingroup so far. Another US$1 billion has been invested in Vingroup in the same time period.

International Attention

Aside from funding from outsiders, the company has also attracted international attention for its unparalleled developments. Landmark81, a 461-metre-tall building that will open later this year inside Vingroup’s Ho Chi Minh City residential project Vinhomes Central Park, was voted the best high-rise building in the world at the International Property Awards in London in December. The 81-storey tower will be 152 metres taller than the Shard of London as well as the tallest building in Vietnam and the 11th tallest in the world when it is completed. Located in the Binh Thanh District, the development took a prize for the best urban complex in the region.

landmark81Image source: Vingroup

But the development is just a fraction of the cpany’s expansive portfolio.

After reporting a blockbuster financial year – Vingroup posted a whopping 72 percent increase in revenue, 58.5 trillion dong ($2.6 billion), over last year – the company shows no signs of slowing down. The group is working on an ambitious waterfront development known as Vinhomes Golden River.

About 25 acres located southeast of the zoo and botanical gardens will be used for an enormous development made up of 13 apartment buildings. The plans call for 63 villas to be built around them.

The mixed-use development aims to open with a plethora of amenities. The website boasts not only the standard perks of living in a mixed-use development – a restaurant, a supermarket – but also advertises plans for parks, a museum and an international school. The website calls the site “a city within a city”. A report updating investors on the project in February noted that 73 percent of the more than 2,500 units currently available in the project have been claimed already.

Just as the Vinhomes Golden River project is a “city within a city”, Vingroup’s businesses have grown to be a world unto themselves by the sheer breadth of sectors in which they operate.

The group’s portfolio includes hospitals, schools, groceries and many other businesses. Vuong remains the board chairman and majority shareholder in Vingroup with a 28.5 percent stake in the company, according to a 2015 company report. The majority of the company, 84 percent, remains with Vietnamese shareholders. Foreign investors hold the remaining 16 percent.

vingroup-buildingImage source: Vingroup

Planning for Vietnam’s Future

As the company’s revenue and profiles have grown, so too has the company’s mission matured. Vingroup’s network of Vinmec hospitals and Vinschool educational centres committed 100 percent of their profits to charities in 2016. The company added that it would invest VND 4 trillion (US$176 million) in Vietnam’s healthcare and education.

Allocating financial resources to nonprofits matches peer institutions like the United States’ Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital. Vietnamese law describes such companies as “social enterprises”. They must commit at least 51 percent of their annual profit to social and environmental projects.

Vingroup’s move into the health sector has led to the expansion of medical services to previously underserved communities. For example, the Vinmec hospital in Phu Quoc was the area’s first international-standard hospital, a move described by Griffiths as “altruistic”. The company has a stated mission of combating chronic food shortages through the Vinmec centres.

vingroup-buildingImage source: Vingroup

Vingroup also supports youth development programmes and programmes to support orphans and senior citizens.

Outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vingroup is completing a 175,300-square-metre mixed-use project in Hanoi, Vinhomes Gardenia. About three-quarters of the units there have been sold in advance, according to the February report given to its investors. Separately, the company’s more than 7,000 villas and condos scattered throughout the country are 81 percent occupied.

Looking forward, Vingroup’s shopping centres and Vinpearl resorts will be a major focus through 2020, according to the company’s 2015 annual report. The company’s five-year strategy statement calls for further expansion of these two brands.

The report provides an insight into Vingroup’s corporate philosophy. It’s mission: creating “a better life for the Vietnamese people”.

vinschoolImage source: Vingroup

Alongside income growth, the company states an interest in greater transparency and management excellence by modelling its executive activities after professional services consultants Ernst & Young and PwC. The 2015 report describes 2016 as “a year of Quality and Efficiency” as the group undertook changes to its corporate governance and human resources development.