Another successful VietBuild exhibition has drawn to a close in Ho Chi Minh City. With more than 300 companies from around the world participating, the Vietnamese construction industry has never looked healthier. It is therefore a suitable moment to reflect upon what Kusto has achieved in Vietnam—and what the future holds our Southeast Asian operations.
Making good investments is often a question of picking winners — strong companies, with bright and dedicated people, and a compelling vision. But equally important is picking the right markets to invest in. In choosing to bring our business to Vietnam, where I made my home for several years, we rode the crest of a wave.
In 2005 Kusto identified Vietnam as a market that was brimming with potential. Since joining the WTO in 2007, Vietnam has further liberalised its economy and opened up to global trade, with Vietnam steadily climbing ‘Ease of Doing Business’ indices.
Kusto has thrived in this dynamic growth environment. Early on, we made a strategic decision to gear our investments towards the construction industry. In a country experiencing high growth and rising foreign direct investment, our bet was on facilitating a building boom.
Our investments — for example in leading construction company Coteccons, or in the cement industry, where our companies claimed significant market share in central Vietnam — saw us not just building developments, but also offering services to and improving standards in the building industry. If the building boom has been a gold rush, we have been selling shovels.
As the Vietnamese market matures, we have diversified our focus — particularly towards real estate. One of our proudest achievements in Vietnam is the development of the iconic Diamond Island project, a luxury residential complex in Ho Chi Minh City. This pattern of development will be replicated in emerging economies across the region, creating demand for construction services. The success of Diamond Island shows we are ready to meet it.
It has been an exciting challenge to lead Kusto Group’s operations in Southeast Asia since 2011. But I firmly believe it is just the beginning. Our success in Vietnam can prove to be a springboard to growth across the region, for the next exciting chapter in Kusto’s history.