Nguyen Duc Kien, whose unexpected arrest Monday evening shocks soccer fans and bank investors alike, has been one of the most powerful figures in Vietnamese soccer in the last 12 years.
Nguyen Duc Kien, a Vietnamese soccer boss who was arrested Monday evening for illegal business activities Photo: Tuoi Tre
Popularly known as “bau Kien” or “[soccer] manager Kien”, the 48-year-old multi-millionaire is a founding member of Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (ACB), one of Vietnam’s largest private banks.
Kien sparked a buzz last year by publicly attacking the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) for its ineffective organization and management of the local top-flight soccer competition V-League, which many say has been dominated by violence, match fixing, and problematic refereeing for years.
Football revolution and Kien’s footprints
The tycoon, also a major shareholder in several other commercial banks such as Kien Long Commercial Joint Stock Bank and the Vietnam Export-Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank, then succeeded in demanding a historic change: a transfer of the league together with the First Division to club owners.
He immediately worked with a few club owners, who are moguls in timber and real estate, to found a company, the Vietnam Professional Football, to organize and “purify” the two competitions, as he once said.
He was next involved in a high-profile ‘war’ with another media magnate over the telecast rights of V-League and the First Division after managing to control the running of the duo.
The banker and his associates won the ‘war’, which has earned the leagues a considerable amount of money from TV rights.
But at the microcosmic level, Kien is not as successful.
First entering soccer in 2000, Kien took over a First Division club from the Vietnam Railways, a state-owned corporation, and named it after his primary bank ACB.
ACB was promoted to V-League two years later before being relegated in 2003.
Kien transferred the relegated team to the Hanoi Football Federation and received another V-League club once sponsored by national flagship carrier Vietnam Airlines in 2004.
His newly acquired club, Hanoi ACB, played in V-League for four years and was downgraded until 2010 when it got back to the top league. The club was again demoted one year ago.
Kien’s current V-League club, CLBBD Hanoi (Hanoi Soccer Club), was taken over from another industrialist who said he had grown tired of Vietnam soccer.
With his conquering ambition, Kien poured huge bucks into the club, including the signing of national squad striker Le Cong Vinh, in hopes it would climb high on the table.
The Hanoi Soccer Club eventually managed to avoid relegation in 2012, by a small margin though.
Nguyen Duc Kien, who was born in 1964, studied at the Military Technical University, under the Ministry of Defense, from 1980 to 1981, before moving on to enroll for four years at the Zalkamate Military Technical University in Hungary.
Kien, along with his friends, founded Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank in 1994 after working for the Vienam General Garment-Textile Corp for eight years.
In recent years, ACB has invested in other banks, such as Eximbank, VietBank, and Dai A Bank.
The entrepreneur and his wife are believed to hold more than VND1.9 trillion (US$91.2 million) in ACB shares, placing them among the Vietnamese stock market’s 20 richest people.
The magnate reportedly stood behind the scenes when Eximbank, a major local lending institution, acquired another Vietnamese lender - Sacombank - in May this year.
He also invests in many other areas such as tourism and garment, in addition to his previous posts as chairman at the Caltex Lubricants Joint Venture and vice president at KFC Vietnam Joint Venture.
Last year, the banker was crowned “Entrepreneur of the Year” by VnEconomy, a leading Vietnamese business journal.
Source: Tuoi Tre News
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