Changes in its business model and operation helped taxi firm Vinasun avoid bankruptcy last year.

According to the firm’s chairman Dang Phuoc Thanh, they have also boosted performance in the first three months of this year.

Last year was a tough year for Vinasun (HoSE: VNS) and other taxi firms as their market shares were narrowed due to the strong growth of the ride-hailing company Grab.

Last year, Vinasun’s total revenue dropped 29 per cent to 2.07 trillion dong ($89 million) and its post-tax profit halved to 89 billion dong.

Thanh said at the firm’s recent annual shareholder meeting that since the appearance of Grab in Vietnam in early 2014, the Singaporean ride-hailing business has grown strongly and taken over the passenger transportation market.

Meanwhile, the legal framework has remained underdeveloped and is not matching the growth of the market as well as customer demand, Thanh said.

“Operation conditions for taxi firms and ride-hailing businesses must be equal and regulations over the service must be strict enough to make sure passenger’s safety comes first,” he said.

In late December, Vinasun won a court with Grab when the latter alleged the former as the sole factor for its earnings decline.

Vinasun demanded Grab to compensate 41.2 billion dong. However, the court ordered Grab to pay only 4.8 billion dong.

The court decision shows there’s still inequality in the way Vietnamese companies are treated against foreign firms, according to Thanh.

In the first quarter of this year, Vinasun recorded an annual increase of 7.2 per cent revenue, which reached 534 billion dong. Of the figure, taxi drivers contributed 463 billion dong, up 12 per cent year-on-year.

Its post-tax profit almost tripled to 32 billion dong from 11.6 billion dong in the first quarter of last year.

This year, Vinasun eyes 3.2 per cent and 11.8 per cent increases in total revenue and post-tax profit. The figures are projected at 2.14 trillion dong and 99.6 billion dong. VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK