GE announces plans for new oil and gas facility in Vietnam

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General Electric (GE) has announced the establishment of an engineering center in Vietnam which will focus on product design, applications and services for the oil and gas sector.

Speaking in Ho Chi Minh City on November 19, GE Vice Chairman John Rice said he hoped he would come back next year for the inauguration of the new facility, to be located in the southern economic hub.

"The center will serve the industry in both Vietnam and the region, and employ up to 200 local engineers in the beginning," he said.

"Our latest move underscores our commitment to bring GE's broad range of infrastructure capabilities to Vietnam in what it describes as a company to country partnership," Rice said at a ceremony attended by about 800 guests consisting of GE's partners and clients.

GE, a US-based multinational conglomerate with revenues exceeding US$147 billion, has been in HCMC since 2001, doing businesses in the energy, healthcare and aviation sectors.

Rice told HCMC Vice Chairman Le Minh Tri during their meeting at the City Hall the same day that over the course of GE's nearly 20 years history in Vietnam, he has come to have faith in the country's as well as the city's leadership, which has motivated his company to continue to invest in Vietnam. He also said he is looking for a location for the engineering center.

Tri suggested the Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) as it is already the home of a $1-billion chip design and testing facility belonging to Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, also based in the US.

Rice said he and GE executives would consider SHTP as a potential site. He also mentioned human resource issues related to the project.

"We'll recruit 200 engineers in the beginning but won't set a specific number as a limit because we'll take in more if we find qualified, talented people. I believe we can find enough," Rice assured Tri.

He said GE has not determined how much capital the new facility will require.

Addressing the announcement ceremony, Vietnamese Vice Minister for Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said, "I'd like to congratulate GE for its sound decision selecting HCMC to house the engineering center. The move illustrates GE's commitment to make long-term and strategic investments in Vietnam."

The American giant has invested more than $110 million in its Hai Phong manufacturing facility, which employs 600 engineers and skilled workers, since 2009. Wind turbine generators and other energy products manufactured in the northern port city are exported to GE manufacturing and service centers around the globe. The facility's total export volume stands at $271 million since its inception and is one of the strongest businesses in Hai Phong.

Rice said GE would increase the investment capital for the Hai Phong facility, but did not provide numbers or a timeline.

Vietnam is one of GE's most important markets in the ASEAN region and the company has registered strong growth across its core businesses here, said Rice.

"GE understands the challenges that Vietnam is now facing, but we remain confident in the country's potential for growth long-term. As ASEAN integrates into a single market in 2015, Vietnam will continue to be a regionally competitive and strategic market in this fast growing region."

GE Vietnam currently employs nearly 700 people.

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