December 3, 2018 / 2:56 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 2-Vietnam's Vingroup to launch smartphones next week as part of tech push

* Vingroup will launch 4 phone models on Dec. 14

* Its phone factory can produce 5 million phones per year

* Market is dominated by Samsung and Apple phones (Adds comment on VinSmart working with Qualcomm and Google, in paragraph 6)

By Mai Nguyen

HANOI, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Vingroup, Vietnam’ biggest listed firm by market value, will launch its first smartphones on Dec. 14, as part of its transformation into a technology and industrial group.

Once a real estate and retail focused conglomerate, Vingroup said on Monday it will launch four models of smartphones under the brand name ‘Vsmart’. It became the country’s first full-fledged domestic car maker two months ago.

Vingroup will be seeking success for its smartphone foray in the nation of 95 million people where smaller rivals have failed to dent the popularity of Samsung and Apple phones. Vietnam is the largest smartphone production base for Samsung Electronics .

The Vsmart phones are being made in its factory in Vietnam’s northern city of Haiphong, with a capacity to produce 5 million phones a year in the first stage, Vingroup said in a statement, adding that it now owns 51 percent of Spanish technology firm BQ and will utilise the Spanish experts for product development.

“We hope that Vsmart phones, alongside VinFast cars, will contribute to the development of Vietnam industry and bringing Vietnamese brands to the world,” said Nguyen Viet Quang, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Vingroup.

Vingroup’s smartphone company VinSmart is also working with Qualcomm and Alphabet Inc’s Google to “update the most advanced technology in the smartphone sector”, the statement said, without providing details.

Vingroup said its Vsmart factory will also produce smart TVs and other smart products in the future. (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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