VinaCapital: Vietnam remains attractive destination to foreign investors

March 29, 2010

Rebuilding trust pays positive dividends  – VinaCapital’s CEO Don Lam talks about how his company has performed and what it plans for the future.

The Asia Asset Management “Best of the Best” fund management awards are in its seventh year. There are a wide range of categories, including the “best fund house” award for each country in the region. I don’t know what other fund managers applied for the awards, but we are very happy to receive the recognition as it puts our brand alongside other winners from world-renowned companies like JP Morgan Asset Management, HSBC Asset Management, and Franklin Templeton, as well as country-level fund managers like Mirae from South Korea and Singapore’s UOB.

My understanding is that the award for “best fund house” has a number of criteria, from overall market share and net assets raised, to the depth of the investment team and client servicing. For VinaCapital, in addition to demonstrating the rapid growth of our net asset base and our investment results, we were able to demonstrate the important role VinaCapital has taken in educating private and institutional investors around the world on the opportunities available in the Vietnamese market. Our slogan is “taking Vietnam to the world” and this helps define our approach to working with investors.

I believe we have a very good track record of investor relations, including updating our fund shareholders and reaching out to other potential investors. Our participation in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, for example, is evidence of this approach. We were the first Vietnam-based company to join the WEF and we lobbied extensively for the WEF regional meeting that will be held in Ho Chi Minh City this year.

We are happy to be involved in this effort, and I believe Asia Asset Management did consider this broader approach to business growth when selecting its country-level winners.

How about VinaCapital’s performance last year and its plans in 2010?

VinaCapital like all asset managers over the last 12 months faced the important challenge of rebuilding investor trust following the global financial market crisis of 2008. It’s not a pleasant number to bring up, but during the financial crisis of 2008 VinaCapital’s asset under management declined by about 25 per cent.

This was actually a strong performance compared to many fund managers, but for 2009 our goal was to demonstrate to our shareholders that we remain in a position to make good investments and to grow their money. We announced several deals over the past year – such as the Masan equity sale and the Hilton Hanoi hotel sale – that helped demonstrate to our investors that our funds were still holding high-value assets.

For 2009, VinaCapital was able to increase the combined net asset value of its funds by 6.6 per cent, which is an acceptable result given the difficult investment environment.

For 2010, our main objective is to increase the share prices of our funds, as they are still trading at a discount to the underlying net asset values. The issue here is essentially investor confidence in the market. When a fund trades at a discount, the market is essentially expressing doubt over the published value of the fund’s holdings.

Fund managers can respond in many ways – by selling assets as needed to generate income, and possible issue a dividend or buy back shares to lift the share price. We are currently reviewing all options available to our funds and will update our shareholders as soon as possible.

In terms of investing strategy, nothing has changed – we aim to buy into good companies and projects, help improve their operations or develop the assets, then exit in a manner that will generate a return for both our Vietnamese partners and our shareholders.

How do you foresee the investment opportunities in Vietnam in the years to come and does VinaCapital have any plans for raising new funds?

The domestic economy is growing at a healthy rate in 2010 and we expect to see deals across a range of sectors. In real estate, we have several important initiatives to bring a new quality standard to the residential market. We recently announced the VinaProjects joint venture to manage the development and construction of our real estate projects, and other interesting announcements in this area will follow soon.

In equities, there are a broad range of sectors that we are interested in, including health care, financial services, education and certain types of agribusiness.

As for new funds, we intend to raise a new unlisted real estate fund this year, which will target institutional investors that do not invest in listed companies, such as our current real estate fund VinaLand Limited. As an unlisted fund, the new offering will attract a different type of investor from our existing funds, which are listed.

Some institutional investors do not invest in listed funds, so we are just creating an opportunity for investors who otherwise would have few options to invest in Vietnam.

“VinaCapital Group is one of the largest foreign investor in Vietnam’s real estate market, with considerable local knowledge and experience. The VinaCapital conference which was held on Oct. 25 -27, 2009 in Hanoi attracted more than 200 foreign investors and business leaders who wanted to know about Vietnam market and the investment opportunities in the coming up years. Attending the conference also was Mrs. Katherine Yip Geicke who is one of Asia’s leading business women and is a Founding Partner and Advisor to the Board of VinaCapital; Professor Kenneth Courtis – former vice-president Goldman Sachs; Mr. Marc Townsend – CEO of CB Richard Ellis Vietnam; and VinaCapital Group leaders”

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Planet Yoga April Workshops

March 28, 2010

WORKSHOP 1

Posture Correction & Body Alignment

Instructor: Aakash

Duration: 8 hours

Date: Apr 10, 17, 24 & May 1 (Sat)

Time: 10:30 – 12:30

Club: CWB Club

Course fee: HK$1,600

Description:

It’s time to re-shape that body. Over time gravity takes its toll and of course those sinfully delicious snacks do as well. This yoga class will show you many effective ways to shift and reduce stubborn fat deposits from your waistline, buttocks and thighs. Many of the killer moves you learn will help tighten, cut and redefine your body for even greater sex appeal.

Tightening your body and tweaking weight distribution will also give you better posture and overall health.

This class is perfect for women who are looking to get their pre-pregnancy bodies back!

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WORKSHOP 2

Yoga for Inner Peace

Instructor: Sumit

Duration: 3 hours

Date: April 17 (Sat)

Time: 16:00 – 19:00

Club: TST Club

Course fee: HK$750

Description:

With just six simple steps, this yoga class will help you reach complete and deep relaxation. A relaxed mind and body leads to stress release, better concentration and an overall peaceful mind. And a mind at peace can help decrease tension, insomnia, anger and frustration.

Take on your world feeling relaxed and at one with yourself, able to solve the problems of your daily life.

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WORKSHOP 3

Yoga and Living Foods

Instructor: Moises

Duration: 3 hours

Date: April 25 (Sun)

Time: 11:00 14:00

Club: CWB Club

Course fee: HK$450

Description:

In yoga philosophy, food is an important part of our holistic being. It is called, “AnnamayaKosha”.

According to Kosha philosophy, different aspects of our person (emotions, mind, spirit, etc.) make up the layers of our being. To complete our being, our Annamaya Kosha must also be made strong as well.

In this workshop you will learn the approach of using veganism and raw food as a way to detox your body and become more healthy. The workshop consists of 3 consecutive hoursof asana, pranayama, meditation and “living foods” demonstration.

This workshop will improve your flexibility, recovery time, yoga practice, health and overall life one meal at a time.

This class is not suitable for pregnant women.

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WORKSHOP 4

Yoga for Two

Instructor: Vanessa

Duration: 4 hours

Date: April 10 (Sat)

Time: 14:00 18:00

Club: CTL Club

Course fee: HK$600

Description:

When you’re pregnant you’re eating for two and living for two, so why not exercise for two?

In this workshop, you will learn about the cardiovascular and respiratory changes that affect exercise during pregnancy. We will also teach you the 7 common problems related to prenatal exercise, posture awareness, nutrition / weight issues, post labor information, a pre and postnatal exercise regimen, as well as practical yoga moves using props such as yoga block, fitball and thera band.

Stay fit during your pregnancy without putting you and your baby in harms way.

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WORKSHOP 5

The Art of Meditation

Instructor: Kapil

Duration: 6 hours

Date: April 24 & May 1 (Sat)

Time: 10:00 13:00

Club: CTL club

Course fee: HK$1,500

Description:

Unfortunately, meditation is not a one size fits all kind of thing. Certain techniques work better for certain people, making choosing the right technique very important.

In this 6 hour workshop, split into two 3 hours sessions teaching 9 meditation techniques each, you’ll discover the different benefits and science behind the various techniques so you can find the one that’s just right for you.

This is a guided class with instruction from a master yogi with short break periods between each 20 minute meditation sessions. A takeaway booklet will be given to help you practice meditation on your own.

It’s time to clear your mind and your schedule to learn the art of meditation.

yoga,Hong Kong,Planet Yoga


From Member to Teacher: Alvin of Planet Yoga gets Hong Kong flexible

March 26, 2010

One of our favourite teachers at Planet Yoga,Alvin teachers a special workshop titled “Yoga for the Inflexible” this March. With many dedicated members practicing with Alvin, this workshop is a guaranteed success. We speak to Alvin about why he wanted to host a workshop and how he won over such a following at Planet Yoga.


So Alvin, are you from Hong Kong?

No but it definitely feels like I am! I’ve been living in this city for 30 years now. I came here 30 years ago with a Hong Kong based-airline company.

Was your schedule quite flexible then? That must have given you a bit of free time to explore the city.
Yes definitely. We would get days off at a time when we were not flying and so I was able to try out lots of different sports. I love swimming, biking, scuba diving and rock climbing! Funny thing is,, I was always interested in yoga about but I never got around to it until much later!

Wow, you are very athletic! When did you start practicing yoga then?
Actually I started practicing about 5 or 6 years ago. I started as a member at Planet Yoga and after a couple of classes I was completely hooked. I started coming here everyday, going to classes and just talking to the other teachers. I would catch Master Kapil after class and just discuss about specific techniques and how I can improve my postures. I learnt very quickly at Planet Yoga because the instructors are so willing to help me after class or in their free time.

From member to instructor at Planet Yoga? No wonder it seems like you know everybody in this club!
Definitely, I made a lot of friends here in Planet Yoga as a member. I understand their point of view, what they like and how they wish to improve. That is the main reason why I wanted to host this workshop. I found that a lot of members were getting frustrated because they could not do a certain pose even after years of practice.

What are some common poses people had difficulty with?

Every body is built differently so our limits vary but backbends, splits and the butterfly is generally a bit more challenging for most people to practice.


Can you give us a little sneak preview of what the workshop would be like?

I wanted to include a mix of discussion, theory and practice into the workshop. Members at Planet Yoga can attend class any day of the week but not a lot of people have the chance to sit down and study or discuss specific problems they encountered in their practice. Also, it is a great introductory class for someone curious and new to yoga to gain some insight before jumping into a regular class. I will be teaching some very practical yoga poses that anyone can do just at their office or when they are sitting around at home.


Thank you so much Alvin for giving us an exclusive look into your workshop. So finally, can you tell us what Real Yoga means to you?

Real Yoga gives us the awareness to be present and in the moment.

Namaste.

Yoga for the Inflexible Workshop at Planet Yoga
Description:

Most people practice yoga to become more flexible,
but everyone’s body is unique. This workshop will
teach you the science of flexibility, helping you
understand your current level of flexibility and how
you can quickly improve on it. Asana Practice and
use of Yoga props (e.g. blocks, bricks, straps,
bolsters) will help you achieve.

This is a detailed class with a lot of personal attention.

What to expect during class

Discussion:

Date&Time: March 27 (Sat) 15:00-18:00
Club: Central Club
Instructor: Alvin
Level: All levels
Course Fee: HK $500

Practical:
-Asana practice
-Postures for stretching the whole body


VinaCapital引領越南房地產市場

March 25, 2010

HO CHI MINH CITY, VinaCapital Group, Vietnam’s leading asset management and real estate development firm, and inProjects Group, Asia’s leading independent project management company, are pleased to announce the launch of VinaProjects, a joint venture company. VinaProjects is a real estate services company offering project and construction management, urban planning, and facilities management services to the Vietnamese market. VinaProjects aims to provide a world-class standard of service for real estate investors and developers in Vietnam, including VinaCapital Group. VinaProjects was established in January 2010 and has already begun the delivery of landmark urban development projects valued at over USD500 million in cities across Vietnam, including Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City. VinaProjects has three divisions – project management, urban planning, and facilities management – staffed by highly skilled professionals with substantial international and domestic experience. VinaCapital is one of the largest foreign investor in Vietnam’s real estate market, with considerable local knowledge and experience. The VinaCapital conference which was held on Oct. 25 -27, 2009 in Hanoi attracted more than 200 foreign investors and business leaders who wanted to know about Vietnam market and the investment opportunities in the coming up years. Attending the conference also was Mrs. Katherine Yip Geicke who is one of Asia’s leading business women and is a Founding Partner and Advisor to the Board of VinaCapital, former vice-president Goldman Sachs, the Deutsches Bank manager – Mr. Marc Townsend, and VinaCapital Group leaders. Don Lam, VinaCapital CEO, comments: “VinaCapital has a significant number of major real estate projects located across Vietnam, and we must ensure all of these projects are delivered with world-class results. We want the next generation of urban and resort developments in Vietnam to be at the same standard as see in cities across Asia and the world. We look forward to working with the inProjects team to help raise the standard of project delivery in Vietnam.”


VinaCapital引領越南房地產市場

March 19, 2010

(胡誌明市)VinaCapital集團是一家越南資產管理和房地產發展公司,inProgects集團是亞洲獨立工程管理公司,兩者共同組建一合資公司 叫VinaProjects. VinaProjects是一家為越南市場提供工程和建築管理,城市規劃,基礎設施管理的房地產服務公司。 VinaProjects致力於為包含VinaCaptinal在內的越南房地產投資商和發展商提供世界一流標準的服務。 VinaProject 成立於2010年1月,已經在諸如越南的河內,峴港,胡誌明市承建了超過5億的地標城市建築。VinaProjects有3個部門,他們是工程管理,城市 規劃,以及設備管理,由行業內擁有國際和國內多年經驗的知名專家組成。 VinaCapital 是越南房地產市場上最大的外國投資商之一,擁有卓越的知識和經驗。於2009年10月25日到27日在河內召開的 VinaCapital會議吸引了超過200多為欲了解越南市場和未來投資機會的外國投資者和商界領袖。與會者包括亞洲著名商界女性葉倩女士(Mrs. Katherine Yip Geicke),她是VinalCapital的奠基人以及肯尼思•柯蒂斯教授(Kenneth Courtis),高盛集團前副主席,德意誌銀行經理 -—— 馬克•湯森先生,以及VinaCapital集團領導人的顧問。 VinaCapital 行政總裁東藍先生(Don Lam)說,“VinaCaptal在越南擁有許多出名的房地產工程,我們要確保這些工程交付與世界水平接軌。我們希望越南城市和休閑建築有新一代的發 展,如同亞洲其他國家和世界流行的標準。我們期待和inProjects團隊一起提高越南工程交付的標準。”

 HO CHI MINH CITY, VinaCapital Group, Vietnam’s leading asset management and real estate development firm, and inProjects Group, Asia’s leading independent project management company, are pleased to announce the launch of VinaProjects, a joint venture company. VinaProjects is a real estate services company offering project and construction management, urban planning, and facilities management services to the Vietnamese market. VinaProjects aims to provide a world-class standard of service for real estate investors and developers in Vietnam, including VinaCapital Group. VinaProjects was established in January 2010 and has already begun the delivery of landmark urban development projects valued at over USD500 million in cities across Vietnam, including Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City. VinaProjects has three divisions – project management, urban planning, and facilities management – staffed by highly skilled professionals with substantial international and domestic experience. VinaCapital is one of the largest foreign investor in Vietnam’s real estate market, with considerable local knowledge and experience. The VinaCapital conference which was held on Oct. 25 -27, 2009 in Hanoi attracted more than 200 foreign investors and business leaders who wanted to know about Vietnam market and the investment opportunities in the coming up years. Attending the conference also was Mrs. Katherine Yip Geicke who is one of Asia’s leading business women and is a Founding Partner and Advisor to the Board of VinaCapital, former vice-president Goldman Sachs, the Deutsches Bank manager – Mr. Marc Townsend, and VinaCapital Group leaders. Don Lam, VinaCapital CEO, comments: “VinaCapital has a significant number of major real estate projects located across Vietnam, and we must ensure all of these projects are delivered with world-class results. We want the next generation of urban and resort developments in Vietnam to be at the same standard as see in cities across Asia and the world. We look forward to working with the inProjects team to help raise the standard of project delivery in Vietnam.”

(胡志明市)VinaCapital集团是一家越南资产管理和房地产发展公司,inProgects集团是亚洲独立工程管理公司,两者共同组建一合资公司叫VinaProjects. VinaProjects 是一家为越南市场提供工程和建筑管理,城市规划,基础设施管理的房地产服务公司。VinaProjects致力于为包含VinaCaptinal在内的越南房地产投资商和发展商提供世界一流标准的服务。 VinaProject成立于2010年1月,已经在诸如越南的河内,岘港,胡志明市承建了超过5亿的地标城市建筑。VinaProjects有3个部门,他们是工程管理,城市规划,以及设备管理,由行业内拥有国际和国内多年经验的知名专家组成。 VinaCapital是越南房地产市场上最大的外国投资商之一,拥有卓越的知识和经验。于2009年10月25日到27日在河内召开的 VinaCapital会议吸引了超过200多为欲了解越南市场和未来投资机会的外国投资者和商界领袖。与会者包括亚洲著名商界女性叶倩女士(Mrs. Katherine Yip Geicke),她是VinalCapital的奠基人以及肯尼思•柯蒂斯教授(Kenneth Courtis),高盛集团前副主席,德意志银行经理 -—— 马克•汤森先生,以及VinaCapital集团领导人的顾问。 VinaCapital 行政总裁东蓝先生(Don Lam)说道,“VinaCaptal在越南拥有许多出名的房地产工程,我们要确保这些工程交付与世界水平接轨。我们希望越南城市和休闲建筑有新一代的发展,如同亚洲其他国家和世界流行的标准。我们期待和inProjects团队一起提高越南工程交付的标准。”


Guinness World Record Holder teaches Yoga at Planet Yoga Hong Kong

March 16, 2010

If you haven’t attended a class with Yogaraj C.P of Planet Yoga yet, other members will gladly tell you what you have been missing! Just try to walk in to his Hot Yoga class on a weeknight and you will see about 50 people lining up to go into the steamy room.  Yes he is that good, and here is a glimpse why.

Hello Yogaraj! What is this we hear about you being in the Guinness World Records?

Yes, I am very honored to have represented my country and achieved the longest yoga marathon in the Guinness World Records.  Essentially, it was a yoga marathon that lasted for 28 hours.  I performed a total of 1,019 asanas positions!!

WOW, and here we thought your 90 minute Hot Yoga class was LONG. We were also told that you just came back form a Yoga Competition not too long ago?

Yes.  I just came back from the 17th International Yoga Festival actually.   I represented Planet Yoga in the competition. (see photos below).  I performed Agro Yoga, participated in a Group demonstration and won 1st place in the competition!  I am so honoured and humbled to be featured in top newspapers including Dinamani,  Dinamalar and Tamil Murusu and Daily Thanthi in Puducherry, India.

How long have you been participating in competitions?
Well, I started to practice Yoga at a very young age.  It started with my father demonstrating the walking Lotus to me–it is a very fun and entertaining pose and I do this with my students a lot now as a warm up. But then my father passed away when I was still young and I stopped practicing for a while. As I got older , i remembered that my father practiced  Yoga a lot in order to stay fit during his service in the Army.  He was stationed in a very cold part of India, up by the Himalayas. I picked up the practice of Yoga again when I was about 12 years old.  I won my first award— Best Demonstrator Award at the 5th International Yoga festival when I was 14.

It must be so exciting to travel around the world to participate in yoga competitions!

I truly love traveling the world and seeing how different people can embrace Yoga into their lives.  I loved teaching yoga in China and Taiwan because for a yoga teacher, it is so rewarding to introduce the practice to places where people don’t know as much about it and where it is still quite a new hobby and sport.

There is no question that you are a very experienced Yogi.  What are you looking to accomplish in the upcoming future?
I think I am most interested in teaching yoga to kids and youth.  I received my first yoga lesson (apart from demonstrations by my father) when I was about 12 years old.  I still remember very clearly how great I felt when I was able to do the walking handstand my teacher taught me.  I think that Yoga is an excellent way to inspire confidence and built postive self esteem. There is a great sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with being able to perform different Yoga poses and I think that it is something very important and valuable to instill in youth today.

Finally, What does Real Yoga mean to you?
Real Yoga, to me, means introducing traditional yoga to people. Whether it is the postures and practice itself or the philosophy behind it.

Thank you so much Master Yogaraj C.P for speaking to us. Namaste.