Mr. Louis Nguyen, CEO of Sunwah Kingsway Vietnam and Saigon Asset Management, spoke with VET about the group’s investment plans in Vietnam.
■ Why has the Sunwah Group decided to invest additional capital in Vietnam at this time? What role will Sunwah Kingsway Vietnam (SKV) play in the investment?
The increased global investment interest in Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam, was the genesis of the formation of Sunwah Kingsway Vietnam. The Sunwah Group has invested over $1 billion and been in Vietnam since 1970, in seafood, coffee, real estate, and fund management. We see this as a great opportunity to leverage over 45 years of on-the-ground experience to increase our proprietary investments as well as provide investment and advisory services to our partners and clients in Vietnam as well as Vietnam-bound investors. Sunwah Kingsway has signed a joint venture with Saigon Asset Management (SAM) to carry out the execution through SKV. I will handle the dual roles of CEO for SKV and SAM.
■ What will SKV do specifically in the time to come? What are the detailed plans for capital disbursement and in what sectors?
We are currently reviewing an already long list of investment opportunities. We focus on the expansion stage of F&B, retail, media, healthcare, education, green energy, mobile and e-commerce. We also have a keen interest in real estate, and you know Sunwah has invested heavily in the Sunwah Tower, Saigon Pearl, and the upcoming Sunwah Pearl. As far as investment deployment, we are considered a “patient investor” and prefer to work with experienced entrepreneurs and operators that are running a growing business in a sizeable market relative to Vietnam.
■ What do investors expect from SKV in investment capital management and the business model in Vietnam?
Sunwah Corporation is the sole investor in the $100 million investment fund. Its interest is in financial return as well as investing in opportunities that are strategic to Sunwah’s seven key businesses. There has been interest from other investors to join and we are considering launching a side fund, if interest is high enough.
■ What are the disadvantages SKV faces and will face in investing in Vietnam market?
As you know, I have been running multiple funds and fund management companies in Vietnam since 2003. Therefore, the challenges we face at SKV are nothing new, and if anything we believe Vietnam’s investment environment has improved with – slowly but surely – increased transparency and governance. Quality deal flow has also increased as entrepreneurs are more sophisticated and can reasonably discuss their views on key issues such as valuations, control, and the importance of a Big 4 audit.