At a recent working session with leaders of the Long An People’s Committee, chairman of Summerfield Company Limited from Hong Kong, Francois Da Pan Shih, expressed interest in investing in the project after initial research.
In November 2011, Phu An Infrastructure Investment and Development JSC, a subsidiary of Khang Thong Group, broke ground for the HappyLand entertainment complex.
Developed on a 338-hectare area in Ben Luc district, the multibillion-dollar project inspired by Disneyland would include a US$600-million theme park, a 3.7-kilometre boardwalk, a shopping centre, three- to five-star hotels, water parks, studios, indoor and outdoor theaters, restaurants, a floating market, and other facilities.
The project, which was expected to come into operation in April 2014, would become the biggest tourism project in Southeast Asia.
In order to realise their ambition, the investors entered into co-operation with world-leading consultancy firms, including Steelman Partners taking charge of design, Savills to conduct the pre-feasibility study, Hill International supplying management services, and Tishman Construction as the contractor.
Besides, the investor planned to collect capital from numerous sources, including domestic and international banks, investment funds, and domestic and international partners.
In 2011, Joseph Walter Jackson, father of iconic popstar Michael Jackson, and a representative of Khang Thong Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to co-operate in developing the project.
Under the MOU, Joseph was entrusted as a consultant to help Khang Thong call for foreign investors to get involved in the hotel's construction.
In over one year, Joseph has introduced two interested American investors to Khang Thong, but the group rejected both of them after it found their conditions too strict.
Meanwhile, three other investors from the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Sweden had shown keen interest in investing in the hotels. Therefore, Joseph declared to withdraw from the project.
At the time, Phan Thi Phuong Thao, chairwoman of Khang Thong Group, said that Joseph’s withdrawal would have no negative effects on the whole scheme in terms of financial capability and construction progress.
However, the construction was delayed due to difficulties in calling for investment capital, especially foreign investment.
Since the ground-breaking ceremony, the investor published information of memorandum of understanding and investment agreement signing ceremonies with large-scale foreign enterprises.
However, in reality, the partner’s capital disbursement was too slow, prompting numerous foreign investors to withdraw from the project.
In late April 2016, only the first rally circuit of Vietnam HapplyLand was opened. With the exception of the rally circuit, an entrance, and some smaller facilities, the project has shown no progress.
Recently, Phu An, the developer of the long-delayed project has been appearing in domestic newspapers because of its debt worth VND1.8 trillion (US$79.2 million).