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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        13  April 2011

KKR's first investment in Vietnam

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Global private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co LP has agreed to buy 10 percent of Vietnam's Masan Consumer Corp for $159 million, valuing the company at $1.6 billion, the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

KKR's investment is the largest-ever private equity deal in Vietnam, and comes as increasing competition for assets pushes private equity firms into wider frontier markets around Asia-Pacific.

"This investment demonstrates our strong conviction in the business prospects of Masan Consumer, as well as in Vietnam as a whole," said Ming Lu of KKR.

The deal comes just a couple of months after U.S. private equity firm Mount Kellet Capital Management invested $100 million in Masan Group's mining unit, Masan Resources.
Masan has raised about $500 million in private equity capital in the past two years as the conglomerate's management looks to expand the company into a proxy for Vietnam's economy.
This is KKR's fourth investment in Southeast Asia and its first in Vietnam. The deal will reduce Masan Group's stake in Masan Consumer to 78 percent from 86.6 percent.

Masan Consumer is currently the market leader in fish, soya and chili sauce and the country's second-largest producer of instant branded noodles.

Vietnam has seen a pickup in private equity activity, as investors bet on a consumer boom in the developing country with a youthful population of more than 80 million.

Over the past decade, Vietnam has emerged from the hangover of war to play a central role on Asia's factory floor, producing everything from footwear to computer parts.

The country also offers the opportunity for early investment in an underdeveloped consumer market with strong growth. The country's economy grew 6.78 percent in 2010, exceeding the official growth target.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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