ASART is confident in Vietnam’s long-term prospects

Vietnamese boutique advisory firm ASART, offering leading advisory services in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), strategy, finance, and wealth, has opened a new office this month, showing further confidence in its home market.

The new office is situated at the heart of the most vibrant financial district in Ho Chi Minh City and purposely designed to move towards a more sustainable and prosperous future.
Knowing the future of work will no longer be just within office walls and a significant part of business will be done remotely, the firm’s office was built with a futuristic spaceship concept, sustainably sourced, with a focus on meeting rooms and open working spaces, and extra soundproof requirements. It offers meeting and working space for more than 50 people.

Binh Le Vandekerckove, founder and CEO of ASART said that “Although we believe in the success of our vision and business model, we have always been conservative, meaning our office space is quickly filled in a short amount of time. This is our third new office in five years, and we have invested a lot more in this one because we need more space and also anticipate strong market growth, despite the global uncertainty.”

When ASART started in 2017, boutique M&A advisory firms were still a new concept in Vietnam. One of the greatest challenges for the company has been to reimagine and disrupt the consulting business model, in which long-standing multinational brands dominate the market. In addition, the company also pursues sustainable growth as one of its founding principles.

“Sustainable growth and environmental, social, and governance were still very new concepts in Vietnam in 2017. It is not easy to practice sustainability while building and developing a business, let alone a new business concept. Many still aim for short-term achievements and ignore sustainability. We contribute to building a more sustainable market, and our work makes it easier for those who want to grow sustainably. Our key clients are entrepreneurs, business owners, and top executives of renowned Vietnamese enterprises and multinational companies who wish to leave a meaningful legacy and grow sustainably through M&A and strategic projects, and we have a lot of work to do. Sustainable growth, from a double challenge now has become one of ASART’s biggest competitive advantages” Le Vandekerckove said.

She further noted that a few big challenges remain, mostly from the lack of technical knowledge and experience of business owners and top executives around the M&A subject and the confusion between professional M&A advisory firms and brokers or freelancers. The firm has seen a positive change in mindset; however, it has still been slower than it would wish it to be. “In the long term, once businesses in this market experience and understand more about the value we can offer, these challenges will eventually fade away” she added.

ASART was founded by a seasoned investment banker and strategy advisor who has worked with over 250 companies on more than 110 projects with a combined transaction and project value exceeding $4.5 billion in Vietnam over the last 14 years.

For the last five years, ASART has studied more than 150 major companies, working with about 30 clients to execute several projects and transactions in manufacturing, food and beverage, retail, animal feed, agriculture, healthcare, hospitality, and logistics. This has enabled a flow of about $1.1 billion in transaction and project value into Vietnam. The work the company has done has been strategically significant to its client’s stakeholders, and the company has been recognised as top advisors in the market, while seeking to contribute to more than half of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

One of the very first clients of ASART, who attended the company’s new office opening ceremony, Gricha Safarian, founder of Grand Place and CEO of Puratos Grand Place, a major chocolate producer in Vietnam and the first entity of its group certified as carbon-neutral, said, “ASART has high standards and the firm’s culture is deeply ingrained into the local reality of the market it serves. That’s why I love to work with them.”

With a solid team of more than 20 employees and independent experts, and a strong network of businesses and investors, the company continues to offer comprehensive one-stop-shop solutions to help business owners and top executives from several multinational and Vietnamese businesses with their most important matters. “Our work is to create the most value and solve the most difficult challenges for business owners and top executives that cannot be done well elsewhere,” said Le Vandekerckove.

The company aims to be the first Vietnamese world-class boutique advisory firm with a strong focus on allocating the right resources and capital to where it is needed through sustainable finance.

The launch of the new office is a testament to how confident ASART is in the Vietnamese market, especially for the medium and long-term views. ASART will also develop a presence in the major global financial markets to truly bring local insight to international companies looking to grow in Asia and Vietnam, as well as open up more opportunities and broader access to capital for Vietnamese firms and business owners.

(By Thanh Van, Vietnam Investment Review)

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