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Ongoing buzz of activity despite graft probe setback

Khairani Afifi Noordin
Khairani Afifi Noordin • 5 min read
Ongoing buzz of activity despite graft probe setback
Singapore-based or listed companies are active in Vietnam. Photo: CapitaLand Development
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Vietnam has been making headlines lately, notably with the commencement of real estate mogul Truong My Lan’s trial on March 5. She stands accused of embezzling over US$12 billion ($15.9 billion) from Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB) between February 2018 and October 2022. 

Lan is the chairwoman of the Van Thinh Phat Group (VTP), which owns prime properties in Ho Chi Minh City. Despite the high-profile trial, economic and business activities in Vietnam have continued without disruption.

At the recent Singapore Airshow, Vietnamese low-cost airline Vietjet made headlines by signing a deal to purchase 20 A330neo widebody aircraft to replace its current fleet of leased A330-300s. This deal ranked among the largest announcements at the airshow and marked one of Vietjet’s most significant investments in widebody aircraft.

Vietjet’s decision is likely part of a broader trend of increased travel demand from Vietnamese locals and visitors. Last year, Singapore welcomed 459,000 visitors from Vietnam, a growth of 46.6% over 2022, making this the 10th largest source of tourists.

Singapore-based or listed companies are also active in Vietnam. On Dec 31, Daiwa House Logistics Trust DHLU -

, which owns a portfolio of warehouses in Japan, announced it is expanding outside its home ground for the first time with the $26.5 million acquisition of a cold storage facility from its sponsor Daiwa House. 

The property, D Project Tan Duc 2, is a built-to-suit cold storage facility in Long An Province. It was completed in September 2023 and is leased for 20 years from October 2023 to a tenant that is a group company of a Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed entity that specialises in cold chain logistics for food products. 

See also: Philippines seeks Asia logistics hub status, banking on US ties

On Feb 29, Mapletree Logistics Trust M44U -

(MLT) disclosed the acquisition of two properties in Vietnam from its sponsor Mapletree Investments for approximately $68.4 million, at discounts of 3.2% and 2.9% off their independent valuations. These acquisitions were announced alongside another property acquisition in Malaysia.

Supply chain shifts

According to Mapletree Logistics, the ongoing US-China trade war, the memories of disruptions caused by the pandemic, and rising political pressures to reshape supply chains worldwide are set to continue, forcing businesses to prioritise security and resilience over efficiency. 

See also: Prabowo must go for new thinking

 Mapletree Logistics says Malaysia and Vietnam have been key beneficiaries of this structural shift within Asia, partly due to their competitive labour costs, skilled workforces, and supportive government policies.

“These acquisitions position our portfolio to capture emerging Asia’s growth potential. At the same time, developed Asian markets, which account for most of our revenue base, continue to provide stability to MLT’s portfolio,” says Kat Ng, CEO of the REIT’s manager. 

One of the properties is Mapletree Logistics Park 3, located in Binh Duong Province, near Ho Chi Minh City. It comprises four blocks of single-storey warehouses with a total NLA of 61,712 sq m. As of Dec 31, 2023, the property has achieved 100% occupancy with a WALE of 1.7 years with tenants — mainly third-party logistics providers — who provide export services for goods such as solar panels and local distribution services for fast-moving consumer goods.

The second property acquired is Hung Yen Logistics Park I, which marks Mapletree Logistics Trust’s entry into Hung Yen Province, a one-hour drive from Hanoi city centre.

The Hung Yen Logistics Park I comprises four blocks of single-storey warehouses with a total NLA of 60,186 sq m, 90% occupancy, and a WALE of 1.1 years as of Dec 31, 2023. Tenants include a blue-chip Japanese multinational electronics company, the logistics arm of one of Vietnam’s largest conglomerates, and a leading Vietnam-based shipping company.

Expansion plans

On March 4, CapitaLand Development (CLD), the development arm of CapitaLand group, announced a bigger ambition to increase its residential portfolio in Vietnam to 27,000 units by 2028, up 70% from its current portfolio of some 16,000 units. 

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Jonathan Yap, CEO of CLD, says the CapitaLand group has been in Vietnam since 1994, building up a portfolio of assets over the years to include now one retail mall, one small office and home office (Soho) development, two integrated developments, and about 16,000 quality homes across 17 residential developments in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong province.

“In addition to Vietnam’s residential sector, we see the potential for CLD to tap real estate opportunities in its burgeoning commercial, industrial and logistics sectors in tandem with the country’s ascent as a global manufacturing hub,” says Yap, speaking at the groundbreaking ceremonies for CLD’s latest residential projects Sycamore in Binh Duong province and Lumi Hanoi in Hanoi, which took place on Feb 28 and March 1 respectively. 

Ronald Tay, CEO of CLD (Vietnam), says that to meet this new target, CLD will step up its capital deployment in Vietnam and expand its development pipeline through strategic tie-ups with local and foreign partners.

In recent years, CLD’s notable launches included Define, an 88-unit development in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City, which was fully booked within two hours of its launch.

Units at Define were each priced above US$1 million, setting a new price benchmark for the vicinity. Another successful launch was Heritage West Lake in Tay Ho District, Hanoi, where all 173 residential and 202 Soho units were sold at prices about 30% above the market average, says CLD.  

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