A few days ago, I got stuck in the middle of a traffic jam caused by a small marketplace on the roadside. I was suffocating when I heard some motorbike taxi drivers gossiping as they fidgeted with their phones. “Smartphones can now do lots of things, right? Even birth registration.” “They are building smart cities, men.” “Will smart cities make the traffic better?” The chit-chat was drowned out by the rumbling of motorbikes moving slowly like no-one was in a hurry. Then I was a bit astonished by what the motorbike drivers just said. It turns out the story of smart cities is spreading more widely than had been expected. It is not confined to the urban elites but has also become a talking point among ordinary citizens. Like how seaports used to mushroom in the recent past, building smart cities has become a fever from north to south, with workshops and seminars taking place in every corner. I have a feeling that cities are scrambling for fear of … [Read more...] about In Vietnam, cities are scrambling to be smart. But can it solve pressing problems?
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The temperature was recorded at 42 degrees Celsius at 4.30pm yesterday in Hanoi. VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat Tenants at bedsits around Hanoi are being hit on their electricity bills, with people like Mai Phuong, 20, from Phu Tho Province, paying from VND200,000-300,000 (US$8.8 to 13) a month for lighting and cooking, even without air conditioning. “The landlord charges us VND4,500 ($0.2) per kWh. When we complained about the high cost, he simply said if we were unable to pay, we could leave,” she told Vietnam News Agency. The phenomenon is common among university hubs, such as Cau Giay District, where the cost of a kWh can climb to VND5,000 ($0.22). The maximum price advertised on Vietnam Electricity’s website is VND3,600 per kWh. In industrial zones outside Hanoi, workers are struggling to pay their bills as the mercury rises. “Although we work all day and only have weekends off, we still have to pay up to VND700,000 ($31) for a refrigrator, air conditioner and … [Read more...] about Heatwave wreaks havoc across Vietnam
Soon after a Singaporean fund divested its entire stock in Vietnam’s top taxi firm Vinasun, a domestic securities firm stepped in to fill the gap. The Ho Chi Minh Securities Corporation (HSC), a professional securities brokerage and equities firm in Vietnam, has announced that it bought 7.2 million shares of Vinasun on May 25, the same day that Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC exited. It is estimated that HSC has spent about VND104 billion ($4.5 million) to acquire 10.6 percent of Vinasun’s equity, making it the third largest shareholder of the taxi firm, behind TAEL Partners fund, which owns 18.3 percent, and Vinasun CEO Dang Phuoc Thanh, who owns over 35 percent. On May 25, GIC had negotiated the sale of 5.4 million shares, or around 8 percent of its stake in Vinasun, for around VND80 billion ($3.5 million), less than half the price it paid four years ago. The divestment followed lackluster performance by the taxi company, which had seen its share value plunge. The … [Read more...] about Vietnam’s top taxi firm sees investment follow divestment
Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC has made a full exit from its investment in Vietnamese taxi firm Vinasun, incurring a major financial loss in the process. On May 25, GIC negotiated the sale of 5.4 million shares or around 8 percent of its stake in Vinasun at around VND80 billion (US$3.5 million), less than half the price it paid four years ago. In August 2014, GIC forked out VND200 billion ($8.8 million) or VND45,000 ($1.98) apiece for its stake in Vinasun, which means it has suffered a loss of around VND120 billion ($5.27 million) from this investment. The divestment comes as the taxi company performs poorly and its share value plunges. The company has blamed its problems on “unfair competition” from foreign ride-hailing service companies. “Foreign companies tapping into HCMC taxi market with 30,000 cars, and taking advantage of their financial resources and legal loopholes to create unfair competition aimed at driving out local competitors has directly affected … [Read more...] about Singapore investor divests from top Vietnamese taxi firm
Grab motorbike taxi drivers wait for customers in downtown Hanoi. Photo by AFP Competition authorities’ preliminary investigation found Grab has become a monopoly, with market share in Vietnam exceeding 50 percent. Vietnamese authorities have launched an investigation into Grab’s acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asia operations, which has shown signs of breaching local antitrust laws. The investigation is estimated to take 180 days, starting Friday and can be extended by another 120 days, Vietnam Competition Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said in a statement. Earlier the same week, the competition authority’s investigation found that Grab’s market share in Vietnam has gone up to above 50 percent since its ride-hailing rival Uber left the Southeast Asian market last month. Vietnam's Competition Law from 2004 requires that all mergers and acquisitions (M&As) that result in a company gaining over 30 percent of market share … [Read more...] about Vietnam starts antitrust investigation into Uber-Grab deal