Vietnamese Coffee Royalty’s Divorce Remains Public Spectacle

Minh Son

14:42 17/08/2018

The long legal saga involving Vietnam’s ‘Coffee King’ and his wife seems destined to continue for a while longer.

Vietnamese Coffee Royalty’s Divorce Remains Public Spectacle

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, founder of Trung Nguyen Coffee, at a court on August 14. Photo by Lan Ngoc

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, founder of top coffee brand Trung Nguyen, and his wife Le Hoang Diep Thao, a major shareholder in the company, are still involved in lengthy divorce proceedings.
They are also involved in a dispute over child support, while Thao has asked the court to reinstate her in her positions at the group.
Trung Nguyen Group (TNG) has three main shareholders, Trung Nguyen Investment Corp with a 70 percent stake, Vu with 20 percent and Thao with 10 percent. But with their direct and indirect stakes in Trung Nguyen Investment, Vu owns 62 percent and Thao 31 percent.
Given this structure, Thao wants Vu to provide their children shares instead of money from his dividends as he has suggested.
Thao has demanded 5 percent of his shares for each child while Vu wants to give each dividends of a 5 percent stake in the company.
Last year TNG paid dividends of VND1 trillion ($43.5 million) to its shareholders, half each in cash and shares.
Le Hoang Diep Thao stands next to a coffee grinder at a King Coffee launch event. Photo courtesy of Le Hoang Diep Thaos official Facebook fanpage.
Le Hoang Diep Thao stands next to a coffee grinder ata King Coffee launch event. Photo courtesy of Le Hoang Diep Thao's official Facebook fanpage.
Thao filed for divorce in November 2015 following a legal battle between her and Vu over the right to control Trung Nguyen Instant Coffee Company JSC, a subsidiary of TNG.
In April 2015 TNG had dismissed Thao from the company and its subsidiary.
In a court filing, Vu, its top executive, said while she was chairwoman and general director of the instant coffee subsidiary, Thao had issued a number of documents that damaged its production and business activities.
Thao rejected the claim and asked the court to reinstate her.
She also wrote to the company’s partners to tell them that the main cause of the damages Vu referred to was not her but the dispute between the couple.
That year the gross profit of Trung Nguyen Instant Coffee Company JSC dropped by 66 percent, according to Vietnam Industry Research and Consultancy (VIRAC), which provides industry reports and analyses to both local and foreign clients.
At the latest hearing Tuesday the court failed to grant divorce pending settlement of the corporate dispute between them.
But, Trung Nguyen, which also operates in the franchise, tourism and retail sectors, seems to be shielded from the fallout so far.
According to VIRAC, TNG’s revenues and gross profit have remained steady at more than VND3.8 trillion ($165.2 million) and around VND800 billion ($34.8 million) in 2014, 2015 and 2016, a success in the face of the fierce competition in the market. Meanwhile, its total assets jumped from VND5 trillion ($217.4 million) in 2014 to nearly VND6.3 trillion ($273.9) in 2016.
The next hearing in the divorce case is set for September.
When Forbes profiled the founder of Trung Nguyen in 2012, it quoted economist Nguyen Viet Khoi as saying Dang Le Nguyen Vu’s was a classic ‘zero to hero story’.
The 'Coffee King,' as the magazine dubbed him, started out in 1996 with a bicycle and a strong will.
Ten years later Trung Nguyen Coffee was launched with a charter capital of VND1.5 trillion ($65.85 million).
Twenty years later the company was raking in more than $160 million annually.

Theo VnExpress

Tin liên quan

Cùng dòng sự kiện