Saudi Arabian investors eager to expand presence in Vietnam

October 20, 2023 | 09:33
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Companies from Saudi Arabia are keen to grow their business and investment activities to unlock the potential of the Vietnamese market.
Saudi Arabian investors eager to expand presence in Vietnam

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh was received by the leaders of Saudi Arabian firms on his arrival in Riyadh on October 18 for a working trip and the first summit between ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

At the meeting, the heads of companies such as Zamil, Lulu, and Ajlan & Bros shared their intentions to scale up their business and investment activities in Vietnam.

Established in 1920, Zamil is a prominent industrial corporation in Saudi Arabia with a focus on shipbuilding, petrochemicals, paints, plastics, general construction, and port management. The group employs over 21,000 people across 60 countries.

In 1993, Zamil Steel first opened a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City, and in 1997, it constructed its first facility in the Noi Bai Industrial Park in Hanoi. Later, Zamil Industrial Investment Group joined forces with Mitsui & Co., Ltd. to form Zamil Steel Vietnam, a wholly foreign-invested joint venture.

Presently, Zamil Steel Vietnam runs two facilities that can produce 120,000 metric tons of steel annually. With over a thousand employees, it has a business network that reaches across ten countries in Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh.

At the meeting, Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, managing director of Zamil Group, announced plans to cooperate with Vietnamese partners in key areas to expand his investment in the country. Zamil is the largest direct investor from Saudi Arabia and the GCC region in Vietnam, employing about 1,000 personnel.

He highlighted, "Vietnam is one of the group's key markets thanks to its favourable location for export activities. The Vietnam-based factories are exporting products across Southeast Asia, Bangladesh, India, and some African and European countries. The group is striving to expand its export markets."

Another Saudi Arabian company, LuLu, intends to double or triple its imports of products from Vietnam. As a retail group, Lulu has set up a supermarket chain in more than 23 countries around the world, including the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. The group currently has more than 65,000 employees and an annual revenue of $8 billion. Lulu has a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City to purchase Vietnamese goods for its supermarket system.

Shehim Kottilingal, director of LuLu Saudi Hypermarkets said, "Lulu will expand its footprint in Vietnam by building more warehouses and new plants. The group has a plan to double or triple its inventory of Vietnamese-made products, including cashews, fish, and rice, as well as garments, textiles, and footwear."

"Vietnamese products are highly favoured by Middle Eastern consumers. At present, the group is sourcing 30 per cent of its lemons and 40 per cent of its cashews from Vietnam," he added.

He hoped the Vietnamese government would greenlight his company’s plans to expand its factory in the country, and called for the opening of direct flights to facilitate the trade in fresh produce.

Likewise, Ajlan & Bros is looking for opportunities in Vietnam. Founded in 1979 as a small textile and fabric shop, the company employs over 15,000 people in more than 25 countries. The company has also invested in a diverse range of sectors, including real estate development, energy, water, food, technology, logistics, hospitality, and operations.

Ali Al-Khatib, deputy CEO for Investment and Portfolio at Ajlan & Bros Holding Group stated, "Vietnam is a priority market. The company seeks partnerships with Vietnamese firms in agriculture, agriproduct processing, renewable energy, and technology."

According to statistics, two-way trade surpassed $2.7 billion in 2022, up 32.4 per cent on-year. Numerous Saudi Arabian corporations are successfully implementing direct and indirect investment ventures in Vietnam covering steel, real estate, and energy.

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By Thanh Van

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