ACB attracts foreign eyes

18:15 | 18/01/2005
Foreign banks and financial institutions have expressed interest in buying into Vietnam’s second-largest joint stock commercial bank, Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), according to a senior ACB executive.

ACB is paving the way to list as a joint stock bank

“Many foreign banks and financial institutions want to buy ACB shares...but we have yet to choose the right partner,” said ACB general director Pham Van Thiet, adding negotiations are still ongoing.
As part of its development strategy, ACB plans to sell 6 per cent of shares to a new foreign partner to raise foreign ownership in the bank to the permissible 30 per cent cap. The field includes ANZ Bank, CitiBank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Singapore’s leading financial institution, Tomasek.
“Among the candidates, we prefer selling shares to a foreign counterpart. The bank management board will meet to decide the right partner by the end of this month [January],” he told Vietnam Investment Review last week.
Foreign institutions Connaught Investors of Jardine Matheson Group, Dragon Financial Holdings Ltd and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) between them hold a 24 per cent of ACB shares.
According to ACB executives, the selected candidate must offer the best price, expertise, technology, and be able to assist ACB in developing banking operations.
“If the plan goes through, ACB will increase its equity capital to VND880 billion ($56 million) this year and maintain its second place in joint stock commercial banks in the country,” said Thiet.
The Saigon Thuong Tin Bank (Sacombank), also based in Ho Chi Minh City, is Vietnam’s largest joint stock institution with total equity capital of VND740 billion ($47.1 million). It is expected to raise the capital to VND1.2 trillion ($76.4 million) by the end of this year. ACB’s deputy chairman Trinh Kim Quang said after the plan is complete, ACB will file to list shares on the stock market.
“ACB itself has met all listing requirements for a joint stock bank. We have been in rush with preparations,” Quang said.
He said ACB should be trading shares on the stock market by the second quarter of this year.
ACB last year posted its highest profits of VND278 billion ($17.7 million), a year-on-year increase of 47.56 per cent.

By Nguyen Hong

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