Name: Mai Kieu Lien
Business group: Viet Nam Dairy Products JSC (Vinamilk)
‘Dairy Queen’ reigns supreme
Vinamilk is Viet Nam’s largest dairy firm its CEO Mai Kieu Lien has been the key person in its emergence from a small, State-run firm to one of the most profitable brands in the country. Known as the “Dairy Queen”, Lien is the only Vietnamese woman to be named among Asia’s 50 Most Powerful Businesswomen four times by US business magazine Forbes.
Once called “Margaret Thatcher of Viet Nam” by CNBC, Lien has been a pioneer in making milk a regular source of nutrition for Vietnamese people. She has also been instrumental in developing material resources for the nation’s dairy sector.
Born in 1953 in France, but graduating from a university in Moscow, Lien has worked with Vinamilk for over 40 years, of which 35 years at the helm, steering the company to become an outstanding example of equitisation of State-owned enterprises. After its public listing in 2006, the company’s market capitalisation has increased to nearly US$9.8 billion, based on July 31 share prices.
In 2016, it reported total sales of nearly VND47 trillion ($2.1 billion), up 17 per cent year-on-year. In the first half of 2017, its revenues topped VND25.4 trillion, up 11.5 per cent year-on-year, pre-tax profits reaching VND6.92 trillion.
In terms of sales, Vinamilk was already ranked among the world’s 50 largest dairy companies by KPMG in 2016.
Apart from its 13 factories in Viet Nam, Vinamilk has invested in a milk plant in the United States, one in New Zealand and one in Phnom Penh. The company exports to over 40 countries in the world, with export turnover in 2016 surpassing $250 million. In Southeast Asia, Vinamilk products have a presence in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines.
Looking to take advantage of more business opportunities in the ASEAN Economic Community, Lien said Vinamilk always welcomed healthy competition in the dairy industry as it is good for both the company (pushed to innovate) and the consumers, who get more choices and better prices.
In the short-term, the company plans to continue expanding its milk plants and dairy farms (including organic farms) to serve rising demand within and outside the country. It is also looking for M&A opportunities to expand its market and increase its sales. VNS