Van Thinh Phat: luxury hospitality developer with empty promises

Van Thinh Phat has acquired several land plots in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces, but many of these projects have been lying undeveloped for a long time.

Van Thinh Phat

Thuan Kieu Plaza was repainted after acquired by Van Thinh Phat without any progress after that

Most active acquirer of prime land locations

In 2015, the Long An People’s Committee has agreed in principal to grant Van Thinh Phat permission to develop 36 projects with a combined area of 2,159 hectares in Can Giuoc district, about a 40-minute drive away from Ho Chi Minh City. However, many of these projects remain undeveloped as the group has been facing obstacles in site clearance and compensation.

Also in the same year, Van Thinh Phat was green-lighted by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee to implement Saigon Peninsula in District 7. The project had an investment capital of $6 billion, but has been left idle all the same.

In the beginning of 2016, Van Thinh Phat made a splash in the property market by taking over Thuan Kieu Plaza in District 5. The complex was jointly developed by Saigon 5 Co., a subsidiary of Saigon Real Estate Corporation, and Hong Kong’s Kings Harmony Intl., Ltd.

Thuan Kieu Plaza consists of three buildings housing 650 apartments, offices for lease, trade centers, recreational zones, and parking lots. Opening services in 2005, the complex was hoped to boost economic development in District 5 and become a bustling commercial centre. However, Thuan Kieu Plaza has  been neglected for over ten years now.

In 2017, Van Thinh Phat has revamped and repainted a building after acquiring a land plot of 10,000 square metres. Still, the developer has yet to launch any apartments or offices, apart from leasing commercial venues in trade centres.

In 2016, a daughter of a Van Thinh Phat businesswoman spent VND700 billion ($30.8 million) to purchase a French-style villa fronting the three roads of Vo Van Tan, Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, and Nguyen Thi Dieu streets in District 3. The 3,000-sq.m villa has yet to be renovated for commercial or service functions.

Last year, Van Thinh Phat also warmed up the central business district (CBD) market when seeking the municipal city’s approval for investment in the golden area of Dong Khoi-Nguyen Hue-Ngo Duc Ke streets and the triangle of Tran Hung Dao-Nguyen Thai Hoc-Pham Ngu Lao streets.

Van Thinh Phat has teamed up with Larkhall Holding from Hong Kong to develop the 11,160-sq.m area bordered by Ngo Duc Ke, Nguyen Hue, Huynh Thuc Khang, and Ho Tung Mau streets in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. The developers are seeking approval from the municipal authority to implement the project, which is likely to reach a height of 40 storeys.

In addition to hunting for remaining golden land plots in District 1, Van Thinh Phat also proposed the city to produce a detailed planning for another complex along the Saigon River near Bach Dang Wharf in May last year.

Ho Chi Minh City authorities had called for investment in the area running from Ton Duc Thang Museum to the Ton Duc Thang-Ham Nghi intersection. The proposed project has a total area of 17.08ha, with 7.02ha of parkland and an additional 10.06ha over the surface of the Saigon River.

Previously, Van Thinh Phat has acquired prime land plots in the city’s CBD to develop a number of projects, like the city’s first six-star hotel known as Time Square and Union Square commercial centre in June 2013.

The group continued its acquisitions of a prime land plot in the Le Loi-Nam Ky Khoi Nghia-Le Thanh Ton-Nguyen Trung Truc streets in order to develop SJC Tower. Nevertheless, there has been no major progress in development, so the site is currently used for parking.

Low-profile, high-end hospitality provider

Van Thinh Phat is active in the M&A space with large land reserves, but keeps a fairly low profile with very little information about its operations.

According to VIR’s research, Van Thinh Phat is owned by businesswoman Truong My Lan and her husband Hong Kong businessman Eric Chu Nap Kee. The group has a slew of companies with complex cross-ownership.

Founded by Truong My Lan in 1992 and originally specialising in trading and hospitality services, the company has diversified its business into property development. In its organisation structure, the group has two legal entities named Van Thinh Phat.

Van Thinh Phat Limited Company or VTP Group Holding, with the charter capital of VND6 trillion ($264 million), is considered as the mainstay of the group. Truong My Lan holds 80 per cent of the company’s stakes, equivalent to a contributed capital of VND4.8 trillion ($211.2 million).

Meanwhile, Truong Hue Van, who is married to famous singer Thanh Bui, and her father Truong Chi Trung holds 8.33 per cent in VTP Group Holdings, equivalent to VND500 billion ($22 million). Truong Chi Trung is Truong My Lan’s brother.

Despite large land reserves, Van Thinh Phat mainly operates restaurants, hotels, office buildings, and apartments, all of which have earned a reputation for premium quality. Two prominent and well-known properties are Windsor Plaza Hotel and Sherwood Residence Serviced Apartments.

In addition, the company has launched many real estate projects focusing on residential areas and hospitality resorts in Ho Chi Minh City and its neighbouring provinces.

By Gia Huy