Vietnam's richest not spared by stock market slump

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The poor performance of the stock market in Vietnam last year has taken its toll on even the richest investor.

At the time the benchmark VN-Index closed out 2011 at 351.55, the ten richest investors owned stock worth VND34.7 trillion (US$1.65 billion), down 28 percent compared to 2010.

Still, not all top stockholders were negatively impacted.

Pham Nhat Vuong, chairman of real estate giant Vingroup, continued his dominance, increasing his assets. As of the end of 2011, his stockholdings were valued at more than VND16.7 trillion, or nearly $800 million.

One year after being named the richest stock investor for the first time, Vuong's holdings augmented by nearly VND1 trillion, helping the chart-topper widen the gap with other investors. His assets were in fact larger than the combined stockholdings of the five investors ranked directly below him.

Another property mogul, Doan Nguyen Duc, chairman of Hoang Anh Gia Lai, followed Vuong on the list. By year-end, Duc owned stock worth nearly VND4.35 trillion, a sharp decline from the previous year's total of VND11.36 trillion. Last month Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered Hoang Anh Gia Lai's long-term corporate credit rating from "B" to "B-" over concerns about its operating performance and liquidity.

Dang Thanh Tam, chairman of Kinh Bac Urban Development, dropped from third to eighth place after his stock assets shrank to around VND1.4 trillion from VND4 trillion in 2010. Tam topped the list in 2007 with stockholdings of nearly VND6.3 trillion at the time.

Vuong's wife, Pham Thu Huong, took over the third position with holdings of VND2.9 trillion.

While the stock market did not finish 2011 with the first dollar billionaire as analysts had predicted it would a year ago, the local news website VnExpress pointed out that Vuong actually owned some $1 billion when his company's stock hit a record high of VND137,000 in mid-2011.

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VnExpress also said despite its slowdown, the real estate sector still dominated the top 100 richest stock market investors. Some 30 property moguls accounted for nearly 63 percent of the total stock assets within the top 100, according to the news website.

Vietnam's benchmark stock index was Asia's worst performer in 2011 and Viet Capital Securities Co. said it may fall another 6 percent before reaching a "strategic buy point," Bloomberg reported.

The VN-Index slumped 28 percent last year. "We should pay close attention to the

330 level as we expect this to be a strong support, which could mark a strategic buy point and the low for 2012," Raphael Wilhelm, director of technical strategies at Viet Capital Securities, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

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