After the breakthrough of Diamond Island, a high-end residential project in Ho Chi Minh City with 98 per cent of apartments sold, Kusto Group chairman Yerkin Tatishev shared with VIR’s Bich Ngoc his vision and development plan in Vietnam – the group’s first Southeast Asian market.

Vietnam is the first country in Southeast Asia where Kusto Group has invested. What are the reasons behind this choice and how has the market lived up to your expectations?

Before coming to Vietnam we knew some Vietnamese people who had been educated in Moscow. They told us about Vietnam and the investment opportunities in the country. The first time I visited Vietnam was in the 1990s, nearly 20 years ago. After my first look around, ideas came to me about investing here –­ a nice country with good people and good prospects for development. I told myself that we would return here when we were strong enough, had the money and the competence, and had sufficient knowledge about the market.

Ten years later, in 2007-2008 we came back to Vietnam and started our project. I have to say that this was the right decision and so far we have been seeing very good results both in our industrial business and real estate development projects.

Kusto Group chairman – Mr. Yerkin Tatishev

Vietnam is one of the most promising countries in the region. The market has room for growth and that is why we have far more opportunities here than in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia. Vietnam is a good country to do business in, and it is our number one priority.

Vietnam is opening up more and more to outsiders, especially in tourism development. It does not only offer world-class cuisine, but a stable political system and a more open legal system for businesses, domestic and foreign alike. In addition, the local authorities are also creating the best conditions for us to implement our projects.

What do you think about the investment environment in Vietnam?

When we decided to invest in Vietnam 10 years ago, it was much harder than now because there were many limitations in law, licensing, and so on. However it has gotten better over the years. Of course, investors always request easier access to the market and resources and a more facilitating environment from the grassroots level, but I would say we are happy here.

We are confident that Vietnamese society and the economy will continue to develop. Vietnam still has many things to do, but we have the experience and know-how to work here. We have built up a good team, have an extensive network of local partners, and understand the market. This is a very big advantage for us.

A decade ago the conditions were very different, what with the real estate bubble and the subsequent crisis that froze the market. But now the market is more stable with steady growth and these are very good conditions for investors like us.

What sets Kusto Group apart from other investors?

I think one of the first differences is the quality. We name our project as Diamond Island, so even the tiniest part of the project must be perfect and polished like a diamond – this is our motto. Our products must be of the highest quality even at the worst of times. When customers choose our products, they must think about exceptional apartments, a good living environment, happy neighbours, and fantastic living quality.

In addition, we are ruthlessly uncompromising when it comes to quality, but we also strive to keep prices low enough to offer tremendous value for money. All of our products are of the highest quality and come at reasonable prices. I have no doubt that within the next five years the price of apartments at Diamond Island will double, which makes the project a particularly good investment.

In Vietnam, we are the pioneers of the “resort home” building concept, where people can remain at home and enjoy their daily lives as if they were staying at a luxury resort. “Luxury in nature” is our promise to bring an amazing life to all residents who love living life to the fullest, enjoying exceptional facilities in an awesome living space.

Diamond Island facilities

For success in business, speed is one of the most important elements: making faster decisions and optimising each and every process. Our effective marketing and sales campaign was also part of the success.

Apart from that, we also bring international standards to the market from our strong experiences in real estate all around the world. We keep our commitment with customers to hand over the units on time.

Which obstacles do you find the hardest to overcome in Vietnam?

Challenges are always present in new markets like Vietnam. There are many issues, from legal differences and inconsistencies to the risk of another real estate crisis. However, for us at Kusto Group, the greatest challenge is finding the right people for the right task, especially a highly qualified management team for our business.

Even though the population is almost 100 million, finding qualified enough staff is still not easy. On the other hand, I think this is the same everywhere, even in the US, Kazakhstan or Singapore. Moreover, Vietnam is still a very young and developing country. We need more skilful people at each level and we are already working on this. We are quite satisfied with the current staff of Kusto Home. They are very dedicated, highly qualified, professional, and motivated. However, we are creating new projects, so we need more people of quality.

What is the philosophy of Kusto Group?

We came from Kazakhstan, and our philosophy is based on our culture. We believe in people, integrity, quality, and long-term investment.

Could you fill us in about the progress of the Diamond ­Island project?

Diamond Island is the first project by Kusto Home in Vietnam. As of now, 98 per cent of the 1,323 units of the first two phases have been sold.

Diamond Island – Luxury Residences 

Diamond Island enjoys a very good location, right in the heart of District 2 of Ho Chi Minh City in Thu Thiem New Urban Area. There is also a newly-built bridge which has just been put into operation, increasing the location value of the projects to a new level. Along with location and transportation, we also offer residents one of the highest-living standards and best lifestyle environments in the whole city.

What is your development strategy in Vietnam for the ­future? What projects can you envision after completing ­Diamond Island, and in which cities?

We are still looking for land in Vietnam’s cities. The next one will be a high-end real estate project in Hanoi. We are also open for new partnerships and always looking for greater opportunities.

In addition, we are also doing the preparation work for another 500,000 square metres of future projects. Besides Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, we are also considering further options in Hoi An, Danang, and Nha Trang. One of these could be the next destination for hospitality and commercial development. We are also seeking partners to co-develop projects with us.

Along with real estate, we are also interested in other sectors, such as industrial manufacturing, construction materials, technology, and agriculture and would be willing to react if an opportunity came up. In real estate, we are also looking into other segments, such as shopping malls.