Fresh CEO rush shakes up Vietnam’s banking arena

08:00 | 15/04/2021
With competition in the financial landscape mounting in recent years, a wave of new CEOs in some major foreign-invested banks operating in Vietnam is slated to boost corporate innovation and responsiveness to rapidly-changing business conditions.
1539 p26 fresh ceo rush shakes up vietnams banking arena
Fresh CEO rush shakes up Vietnam’s banking arena, photo Le Toan

In February, Shinhan Bank Vietnam named Lee Taekyung, former CEO of Shinhan Bank Cambodia, as new CEO of the local franchise. With 29 years of experience under his belt, Taekyung has been in charge of various positions of strategy, planning, risk management, and marketing, among others.

He previously took the helm as head of the Global Business Division of Shinhan Bank Korea and gained working experience at Shinhan Bank America and Shinhan Bank Cambodia. In the latter, Taekyung doubled the size of the bank, including assets, profits, the number of branches, and employees in just two years.

“In the ever-evolving financial landscape, customers’ needs will change quickly. We must be a bank that keeps pace with customer changes with customer-oriented value as the top priority,” he noted. “Vietnam is the most important country globally for Shinhan Financial Group, and we sincerely appreciate all of the customers. Shinhan Bank Vietnam will continue to expand corporate social responsibility activities in Vietnam and contribute more to society.”

Standard Chartered Vietnam also appointed a new CEO in February. Michele Wee, a seasoned banker with over 25 years of industry experience, joined Standard Chartered in 2011 as global head of E-commerce Sales to build a business distribution channel for the bank’s Financial Markets (FM) clients.

Prior to her appointment as CEO in this country, she was the head of FM for Singapore, Australia, and Brunei, in which she was responsible for the development and execution of these markets’ FM strategy.

“Vietnam is an important market for our global network with significant opportunities to develop our businesses with universal banking capabilities. My key focus will be on providing valuable support and benefits to our clients, regulators, and the communities, building on our unrivalled local knowledge and international expertise,” Wee said.

She takes over the reins from Nirukt Sapru who was appointed as CEO for Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in 2013, and in 2015 took on the expanded role as the regional CEO for ASEAN and South Asia cluster markets including Australia, Brunei, Nepal, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Last year, the Vietnamese subsidiary of Deutsche Bank appointed Huynh Buu Quang, former CEO of Maritime Bank (MSB), as its acting CEO. Quang had served as the CEO of locally-invested bank MSB for four years. He has 25 years of experience in the banking and financial sector and had previously held senior positions at HSBC.

Deutsche Bank’s Asia-Pacific CEO Alexander von zur Muehlen said, “With Vietnam a key growth market for our bank in ASEAN, we are delighted to have an individual of Quang’s calibre and experience leading the next phase in the expansion of the local franchise.”

In the region, Deutsche Bank AG has a long track record in providing corporate finance and advisory solutions to Vietnamese corporates, leading a number of notable capital market transactions. The bank’s expertise in loans and structured finance is also well known. Since 2017, Deutsche Bank has raised more than $1 billion in debt, loan and equity capital annually for Vietnamese corporates. The German lender confirmed its commitment in Vietnam to support higher trade flows from Europe, which are expected to increase following the recently ratified EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.

Specifically, major Thai bank Kasikornbank received approval from the State Bank of Vietnam to open its Ho Chi Minh City branch in February. Kasikornbank aims to serve Thai business customers and clients of all shapes and sizes who have invested in Vietnam, as well as local retail customers. It targets lending of 10 billion baht ($318 million) in its first year of operation while also investing in startups with the aim of scouting advanced digital technologies for increased business opportunities.

“Kasikornbank has used the knowledge gained from services offered at its two representative offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in order to upgrade the representative office in Ho Chi Minh City to a bank branch. It will focus on offering services to Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean companies wishing to expand their businesses in Vietnam for international trade and investment, as well as local entrepreneurs, especially those conducting business with Thai corporate customers of Kasikornbank,” the bank stated.

Elsewhere, Mizuho Financial Group, one of Japan’s largest financial groups, appointed managing executive officer of its banking unit Masahiko Katoas the new CEO of the bank in February.

By Celine Luu

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