Once upon a time… nostalgia of first stocks

ITA stock deep in debt

The appearance of Tan Tao Investment and Industry Joint Stock Company (Itaco - stock code ITA) in 2006 not only brought in new breath into the market, but also contributed to making its founding shareholder the richest person on the stock market.

From an industrial park tycoon, ITA has invested into too many sectors.
From an industrial park tycoon, ITA has invested into too many sectors.

However, despite a smooth start, ITA met with bad fortune in a series of disastrously failed investment projects and the strange "disappearance" of the Chairwoman of its Board of Directors.

Largest industrial zone in Vietnam

ITA is an investor in the Tan Tao Industrial Park (IP) in Binh Chanh District in Ho Chi Minh City, with a total planned area of 443.25 hectares, of which the existing area of 181 hectares was established in 1996. By 2000, Tan Tao Industrial Park extended its area by a further 262,25 hectares.

At that time, Tan Tao Industrial Park had the largest number of factories in operation in Ho Chi Minh City, with 184 enterprises and attracting over 20,000 employees. By the end of June 2006, Tan Tao Industrial Park had 203 domestic enterprises and 34 foreign enterprises.

The success of Tan Tao Industrial Park made ITA the largest industrial zone infrastructure in Vietnam. Therefore, the appearance of ITA on HOSE on 15 November 2006 created great excitement and a fervor among investors. From VND 54,000 per share, ITA continuously broke out and peaked at VND 169,000 per share in the trading session on 28 February 2007.

After this historical rise, ITA fell but remained above VND 100,000 per share for a very long time. At this stage, ITA Board member, Mr. Dang Thanh Tam, overtook Mr. Pham Nhat Vuong, Chairman of Board of Directors of Vingroup JSC (VIC), to become the richest person on the stock market in 2007 with total assets of VND 6,293 billion.

Debtor on stock market

After the success of Tan Tao Industrial Park, ITA continued to invest in Tan Duc Industrial Park, with 543 hectares, and also poured cash into new areas. However, although Tan Duc Industrial Park proved a good investment, new investments in other fields would sink ITA in debt.

For example, Tan Tao Energy Joint Stock Company (TEC), a member of ITA, had invested US 6.7 bn in the Kien Luong Thermal Power Project in Kien Giang Province. But until now, after more than 10 years of implementation, the project is still not complete. The People's Committee of Kien Giang Province has repeatedly warned that the project would be revoked if the investor did not continue to implement the project.

The Provincial People's Committee of Kien Giang said that since the end of 2011 the investor has not fulfilled its obligations to pay the land use levy and has not ccompleted the procedures to apply for extension of payment as required. The ambitious investment in Kien Luong Thermal Power has turned ITA into a debtor and is now being rejected and turned away by banks.

In order to repay its debts, ITA created an "initiative" to issue debt clearing shares. Specifically, in 2013, ITA issued an additional 119 million shares to offset more than VND 1,155 bn for businesses such as Tan Tao University Joint Stock Company; Delta Southern Joint Stock Company; Ban Mai Media and Entertainment Media Joint Stock Company; and the ITA Fund. All these businesses were connected with ITA.

The issuance of hundreds of million shares to offset debts of previous years helped in the downfall of ITA. This is also one of the reasons that has made it difficult for ITA to break through its impasse, even when the business has completed its progressive business plan.
ITA continued to issue these types of shares in 2014, 2015 and 2016. According to statistics, in the period 2013-2016, ITA issued more than 435 million shares to offset the debt of around VND 4,350 bn.

Despite continuously attempting to reduce its debt, the investment in Kien Luong Thermal Power Project was tough to handle for ITA. Recently, in its audited semi-annual financial report of 2019, the auditors made a note on the ability of ITA to recover investments and receivables of more than VND 3,500 bn related to the Kien Luong Thermal Power Project.

Specifically, on 30 June, ITA recorded investments in Tan Tao Energy Investment and Development JSC (TDEC) and Tan Tao Energy Joint Stock Company 2 (TEC 2), with a value of nearly VND 1,753 billion and VND 418 billion, respectively.

Strange disappearance of Chairwoman

While the company was in a crisis situation and with debts mounting up to thousands of billion dong, the Chairwoman of the Board, Ms. Dang Thi Hoang Yen, has been absent since the 2016 annual shareholders meeting, stating that she is “too busy”.

At the annual shareholders meeting held in June 2019, shareholders emphatically questioned the absence of  Ms. Dang Thi Hoang Yen from the Board of Directors. Mr. Dang Thanh Tam, who is Ms. Yen's younger brother and a founding shareholder, who was presiding over the shareholders meeting, said that he would inform Ms. Yen again and ITA would send a reply to all of the shareholders. But till date the shareholders have received no information on Ms. Yen’s whereabouts.

It is worth mentioning that at these AGMs, Mr. Tam presented a bright, prosperous and impressive business plan for the shareholders. However, this picture was not well received by investors and by now the shareholders have got used to seeing the board drawing up imaginary business plans to pacify them even though the actual results are quite pathetic.

Translated by Francis

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