IDG plans major expansion in Vietnam

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Looking to branch out in a country expected to see tremendous growth in technology, IDG Corp. plans to invest $100 million to expand its already significant media presence in Vietnam between now and 2010.

The technology publisher will launch a handful of IT titles in Vietnam in 2003, including Network World, Telecom World and Electronic Tech World. The company has two existing trade shows in Vietnam, ComputerWorld Expo and Comnet Expo, and plans to mount two more shows: Vietnam High-Tech Fair, to be held this month in Hanoi, and IT in Education, scheduled for January, also in Hanoi.

IDG’s moves in Vietnam take a page from the publisher’s playbook in neighboring China, where it has had a presence since 1980 and has invested more than $200 million in 120 technology companies in the past 10 years.

IDG entered the Vietnamese market in 1992—three years before the U.S. normalized relations with its one-time foe—with the local launch of PC World, which now has a paid circulation of 52,000 in Vietnam and is growing 37% annually. In 2000, IDG added CIO, which now has a paid circulation of 15,000 in Vietnam.

Vietnam, a predominately rural country with a population of 77 million, is on track to exceed $1 billion in IT expenditures this year and is expected to have a 22% to 25% annual increase in IT expenditures between 2003 and 2010, making it one of the fastest-growing IT markets in the world.

"There’s a thirst in Vietnam for information and IT know-how," said Patrick McGovern, chairman and founder of IDG Corp. McGovern said he expects the conversion of state-owned enterprises to the private sector to continue in Vietnam, but added the caveat: "Any restrictions could slow the pace of international opportunity."

For many tech companies, efforts in Vietnam are part of a larger marketing strategy. "Nobody is sitting in the States saying, ‘Gee, I have to target Vietnam,’" said Sarah Fay, president of Carat Interactive, a subsidiary of media-buying agency Carat North America, whose clients include ATI Technologies Inc., Rational Software Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc. "But in the Asian-Pacific landscape, it’s an important market to fill out."

Other b-to-b publishers also have their eyes on expanding in Asia. Advanstar Publications, for example, launched several publications in the region throughout the 1990s, including Telecom Asia, Telecom China and Wireless Asia.

"As far as technology goes, these are not very mature markets," said Danny Phillips, exec VP of Advanstar, who is in charge of the publisher’s Asian strategy. "Despite the global recession, these countries are enough in the developmental phase so that the growth potential outweighs the recessionary impact."

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