Two Vietnamese entrepreneurs on Forbes’ list of 50 most powerful Asian businesswomen

Forbes Magazine has named two Vietnamese female business leaders of two dairy product producers among the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia

Mai Kieu Lien, chairperson and CEO of Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company

Forbes Magazine has named two Vietnamese female business leaders among the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia.

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Mai Kieu Lien, chairperson and CEO of Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk), and Thai Huong, chairperson of TH Group with the TH True Milk brand, were included in the Asia's Power Businesswomen 2015 list, published by Forbes on Wednesday.

Vinamilk is one of the most famous brands in Vietnam and the company now has 51 percent of the local liquid milk market share, Forbes said, citing research firm Nielsen.

Its revenue jumped 14 percent in 2014 to US$1.7 billion, supported by two new factories, the magazine said, adding that Lien, 61, aims to push sales to $3 billion by 2017 by expanding overseas.

Vinamilk exports to 30 countries and is trying to sell more to the Middle East, Africa, and Cuba but the Vietnamese businesswoman currently faces challenges: profit last year was flat as the price of raw materials – largely imported milk powder – shot up, according to Forbes.
Lien has been included in the Asia's Power Businesswomen list for four consecutive years, Forbes said.

In February 18, 2015, the board of directors of Vinamilk passed a resolution to establish a subsidiary in Poland with a capital of $3 million.

Along with a plan to acquire a French dairy company, Vinamilk is working to develop and expand its market to many European countries to realize the goal of becoming one of the world's 50 largest dairy companies with $3 billion in revenue.

In 2014, Vinamilk spent $7 million acquiring a 70 percent stake in Driftwood Dairy Co., a dairy company in California.

Meanwhile, Thai Huong is the newest representative of Vietnam in this list after entering the milk business in 2009 with a commitment to change the nature of the industry in the country, according to Forbes.

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Thai Huong, chairperson of TH Group. Photo: Forbes

Since then, her TH Group has invested $450 million to import and raise cattle to produce clean milk with Israeli technology. The company is rearing 40,000 cows on an 8,100-hectare area and planning to raise the area to 37,000 hectares.

TH estimated that its 2014 revenue exceeded $200 million with a market share of one-third of the domestic fresh milk business.

This is a challenge for Vietnam's largest dairy company, Vinamilk, Forbes said.

Huong, 57, began her business in 1994 and is the founder of Bac A Commercial Joint Stock Bank. Today, she is still the chairperson of the bank.

In the Asia's Power Businesswomen 2015 list that covers the top 50 representatives involved in many business areas from 16 regional countries, China occupies a dominant position with 14 businesswomen, followed by India, Thailand, and Singapore.

To prepare this year's list, Forbes applied the following criteria: company sales, the positions of the candidates in their companies, and the level of their participation at work.

Lien, of Vinamilk, made it to the list for the first time in 2012.

In 2013, Vietnam had one more representative, Pham Thi Viet Nga, chairperson of Hau Giang Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company.

In 2014, Vietnam had two new representatives, Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh, chairperson and CEO of Refrigeration Electrical Engineering Joint Stock Company (REE), and Nguyen Thi Nga, chair of Southeast Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank.

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