North Thang Long backers get State ultimatum

July 22, 2003 | 18:04
THE government has issued an ultimatum to the Thai backers of the long-delayed North Thang Long urban complex: put the project back on track by next month, or the investment licence will be scrapped.
The $990-million complex – one of Hanoi’s biggest foreign-invested property projects – has been stalled since 1998 when project partner Thai Northbridge Communities was hit by the regional financial crisis.
Pham Quy Trong, deputy general director of Hanoi Construction Corporation (HCC), the joint venture’s local partner, said the government had set August as the final deadline for the mammoth project.
“A detailed schedule to develop the project was agreed between the two sides at the latest meeting held last May in Hanoi.
“If by August, this year the project does not show any signs of getting back on track, the Ministry of Planning and Investment will revoke our licence,” he said.
Vietnam Investment Review understands local partner HCC wishes to maintain its partnership with the Thai investor, but if the foreign partner could not complete the project, HCC would be willing to take it over.
Under its schedule, the joint venture has to finish all procedures and land clearance and compensation within the year. The project is expected to take three years to complete.
Trong, who is also vice chairman of the joint venture’s executive board, said HCC was able to go-it-alone on the project. The company is also working on another project to establish 40 high-rise buildings in Hanoi’s Nam Trung Yen residential area.
He said the North Thang Long urban project would not face many difficulties with land clearance and compensation since much of the project site was agricultural land.
Some property experts, however, have expressed doubts over the financial ability of the venture’s foreign partner.
Trong said if the domestic partner was permitted to go-it-alone with the project, the feasibility study and investment capital would be adjusted to suit today’s market.
The North Thang Long joint venture, a partnership between Thai Northbridge Communities company and HCC, was granted a licence to develop the urban complex in 1997.

By Bich Ngoc

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