Investors Meet As Trap Threatens Vietnam

 As global investors and Vietnam’s largest corporations convened this week at the Intercontinental Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Bloomberg published a full-blown feature suggesting Vietnam is  falling into the middle-income trap — with costs outpacing productivity gains.  But the consensus among scores of public and private equity companies, investors  and analysts seemed to be that Vietnam is an investment bargain today.

A panel at Viet Capital’s Vietnam Access Day

It’s true Vietnam has been through rough economic times, and many believe the country hasn’t hit bottom yet — with prices of fuel, raw materials and labor higher and many banks overwhelmed with bad loans.  Even so, businesses large and small represented in this week’s conference are making money, growing fast, and selling in the public markets at bargain basement prices.   Moreover, they are inspiring confidence with improved accounting, corporate governance, management structures and professionalism.

Conferences like this one, sponsored by Viet Capital Securities, one of Vietnam’s largest and most respected, are partly an effort to communicate steps the government needs to take to improve the business environment.  By now those messages are familiar: Privatize state-owned corporations.  Reform the banking system.  Invest in physical and social infrastructure.

In the next few days, this blog will highlight some of the Vietnamese companies that are likely winners for investors.

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