News #59 - Vietnam’s real-estate embrace for new FDI’s logistics wave


Analysts suggest that the "rise" of e-commerce is reshaping the logistics market and creating a more diverse range of assets, most notably urban logistics real estate. Competitive land prices open new opportunities for investors.

The "New Gold Mine" for Investors

The latest data from Vietnam General Statistics Office shows that in the first four months of 2024, registered capital in the real estate business sector ranked second (after the processing and manufacturing industry) with $1.6 billion (accounting for 22.5% of the total), an increase of more than four times compared to the same period last year (about $386 million).

Among the 50 countries and territories that have newly licensed investment projects in Vietnam, Singapore is the largest investor with $2.59 billion, accounting for 36.4% of the total newly registered capital. This is followed by Hong Kong (China) with $898.6 million, equals to 12.6%, and Japan with $814.1 million with 11.4%. Meanwhile, China accounted for $740.2 million or 10.4%...

Recently, Cushman & Wakefield forecasted that from 2024 to 2026, substantial foreign capital will flow into the Vietnamese real estate market. Vietnam has become one of the most promising e-commerce markets in the ASEAN region, with an average growth rate of 29% from 2020 to 2025, and the Vietnamese e-commerce market is expected to reach $52 billion by 2025.

"Vietnamese consumers increasingly prefer the convenience of online shopping, driving a shift in storage from retail stores to warehouse spaces. The strong growth of e-commerce is reshaping the logistics market and creating a more diverse range of assets, most notably urban logistics real estate," a Cushman & Wakefield expert evaluated.

Specifically, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield, in the fourth quarter of 2023, the key economic region in Southern Vietnam recorded a total warehouse supply of about 5.5 million square meters, with Ho Chi Minh City accounting for about 14% of the total supply. The key economic region in Northern Vietnam recorded a supply of about 2.2 million square meters, with Hanoi accounting for 12% and Hai Phong 26% of the total supply.

In fact, in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the scarcity of land and available logistics facilities has forced developers to utilize various types of real estate, often old buildings or vacant land. Although old buildings pose higher risks and are less efficient in operations such as unloading from pickup trucks and storing goods.

However, logistics warehouses located near urban delivery points remain a top priority for third-party logistics companies (3PL), e-commerce retailers, and parcel companies. In some cases, old buildings are refurbished to relatively better quality. With this position, retailers can attract more customers with the ability to deliver quickly.

Investors in e-commerce are eager to acquire logistics properties with the ability to reach the city center within 30 minutes by car. This is also a top priority goal for developers to increase their competitive edge.

"In the coming years, a future scenario may involve underground warehouses, and trucks converted to electric vehicles, which will address objections from stakeholders because trucks are a source of noise and air pollution," Cushman & Wakefield assessed.

Enterprises 'Pivoting' and the Vision Story

Speaking at a recent press conference about the real estate outlook for Vietnam 2024 in Ho Chi Minh City, Ms. Trang Le, Head of Research at JLL Vietnam, stated that the data center and urban logistics segments are potential products for the future.

Ho Chi Minh City currently has 9,600 registered logistics service businesses (accounting for 36.7% of the country). The city also accounts for 54% of the country's professional logistics service providers (about 2,700 businesses).

Recently, recognizing the potential, many "big players" have quickly seized the opportunity, pivoting to the urban logistics real estate sector to catch the wave of FDI pouring into Vietnam. For instance, Mr. Le Tan Phuoc, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Searefico, mentioned that Searefico's strength used to be in M&E for office buildings, shopping centers, etc., but this field now faces high competition. Continuing to focus on such an area would decrease gross margins. Therefore, Searefico has inaugurated a General Logistics Warehouse in Da Nang, signed agreements with Phu An Thanh Industrial Park (Long An) and Hai Phong to build cold storages, smart warehouses...

"Currently, cash flow in some projects has started to turn positive again, everything looks very promising and brighter than last year. In the first quarter of 2024, our tender revenue recorded over 1,000 billion VND, focusing on the fields that the company wishes to transition to," Mr. Phuoc revealed.

While the potential exists, experts point out that participating in this "game," businesses must accept the high investment costs of building cold storages, which are many times higher than constructing regular warehouses. Cold storage service providers often have to lease building space for 10-30 years to ensure the investment pays off.

Significantly, in the context of limited land and a dense population, by 2050, the urban area of Ho Chi Minh City is expected to house nearly 30 million people, with an urbanization rate of about 90%. Higher urban density means greater challenges in using logistics land. Currently, there is a significant gap between the necessary urban logistics space and the actual amount available.

Narrowing this gap requires investing time and finances to overcome barriers to using logistics services in cities. Local governments and investors need to strategize for an "urban space model."

"To increase competitiveness, cities must focus on investing in passenger transport infrastructure, logistics infrastructure, increasing the capacity for loading and unloading goods, the capacity of seaport warehouses, and investing ahead of supply chains to form regional-scale logistics service centers. This will also involve gradually restructuring market shares, with a priority on developing market shares for rail, inland waterway, and air transport to reduce the pressure on road transport," analysts evaluate.

Especially, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues have attracted significant attention in recent years. An analysis by the Singapore Urban and Real Estate Research Institute shows that urban logistics properties with green certifications perform well, enjoying an average value increase of 12.7%, significantly higher than the 4.9% increase for properties without green certifications.

"Outdated facilities will need to be upgraded to meet customer expectations, or risk losing market share to competitors. Furthermore, owners face the risk of rental price damage, profit and output loss, as well as higher operating costs from inefficient construction," the study points out.


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