McDonald's gives Vietnam a taste of Big Mac

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Vietnam is to get a taste of McDonald's after the US burger giant said it would open its first outlet there next year.

The chain's franchise has been awarded to Henry Nguyen, son-in-law of Communist-ruled Vietnam's leader.

The move underlines Vietnam's hunger for Western consumer brands and the attractions for foreign investors.

But McDonald's, once a pioneer for US firms entering countries traditionally hostile to American influence, is a relative newcomer to Vietnam.

Starbucks, Subway, Burger King, and KFC all have a presence there.

Despite the Vietnam economy's recent slowdown, foreign brands are popular among the youthful population whose parents had few of the food and lifestyle options now available in the country.

Burger flipper

McDonald's said it will open its first outlet early next year in Ho Chi Minh city, also known as Saigon, where the US-backed government was based until it fell to communist forces 38 years ago.

That led to major US brands exiting South Vietnam for about two decades until Coca-Cola and Pepsi re-entered the market in the mid-1990s.

The McDonald's franchise has been given to a Vietnamese-American investor, one of whose first jobs as a teenage was to flip burgers at McDonald's in the US.

Mr Nguyen said: "I have dreamed of one day opening a McDonald's restaurant in my native country ever since my return to Vietnam more than a decade ago.

"I have been in contact with McDonald's over the years sharing the opportunity that exists in our country.''

Mr Nguyen is the founder of travel and food group Good Day Hospitality and managing general partner of investment firm IDG Ventures Vietnam.

McDonald's, which said it had been through a "rigorous" selection process to choose its franchise partner, operates in more than 100 countries across the world, including 38 in Asia.

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