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Procter & Gamble Co. is preparing to enter Vietnam, signing a letter of intent to establish a joint venture with that country's Consumer & Industrial Chemicals Corp.

P&G, believed to be one of the first major U.S. companies to sign such a letter, plans to invest in a manufacturing plant to produce toothpaste, bar soaps, detergents and shampoos.

It's too early to identify specific brands or marketing plans, said a P&G spokesman.

The investment is relatively modest. Assuming the deal gets government approval, P&G will put up $10 million, or 70% of the $14.3 million venture.

"Everything is premature until we get some kind of ruling," said the P&G spokesman. "But we see the market as having significant potential because it's a sizable market with a population of 70 million people. And we believe consumers there are interested in purchasing the kinds of products we manufacture."

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