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The creditor’s chairman Ha Van Tham said the bank was now in talks with a number of potential foreign investors, but the total holding of any such future partner was still up in the air.
Under existing rules, a foreign strategic partner can hold up to 15 per cent stake in a local credit institution. The stake can be raised to maximum 20 per cent subject to the prime minister’s approval on a case-by-case basis.
PetroVietnam with a 20 per cent stake has been OceanBank’s biggest and strategic shareholder since 2009. Tham said OceanBank planned to list on the local bourse when stock market conditions picked up.
OceanBank is a wholesale bank with large customers including state-owned giants like PetroVietnam, Vinalines, Vietnam Airlines Corporation and Vietnam Railway Corporation.
OceanBank’s pre-tax profit in 2011 stood at 80 per cent of its target for the year, or about $31 million.
Tham said the bank’s sub-target pre-tax profit was a result of hostile economic conditions in Vietnam. The central bank’s regulatory cap on credit growth and the requirement on commercial banks to reduce lending rates had bitten particularly hard.
“But our bank had good financial safety ratios as, in 2011, we aimed at sustainable development,” Tham said. OceanBank’s return on equity (ROE) and return on assets (ROA) reached 14.19 and 1.13 per cent, respectively.
In 2011, the bank kept its ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) to total outstanding loans at lower than 2 per cent. The Vietnamese banking system’s average is 3.39 per cent. By the end of 2011, OceanBank had about $3 billion in total assets or a 12 per cent hike year-on-year, $922 million in total outstanding loans, up 10 per cent and VND4,000 billion ($192 million) in chartered capital, up 15 per cent.
“In 2012, we expect the economy will still be facing many difficulties, thus we set a profit growth rate of around 15 per cent on-year,” said Tham.
The chairman said besides wholesale banking – which is now the bank’s strongest business line, – OceanBank would boost retail banking in anticipation of the robust prospects of this segment. “OceanBank has well-prepared technology, distribution channels and human resources to speed up electronic banking and retail banking. We expect to have one million retail customers by the end of 2012,” he said.
OceanBank is one of only three Vietnamese banks in the top 100 banks in the Asia-Pacific region with the strongest balance sheet as listed by Asian Banker Magazine. The creditor is the successor of Hai Hung Rural Commercial Joint Stock Bank, or Hacombank, which was established in 1993 with chartered capital of VND300 million ($14,400).
OceanBank chairman Ha Van Tham is one of the ten wealthiest people in Vietnam in terms of ownership of local equities. Tham was recently granted “Red Star” award by Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs’ Association which honours young entrepreneurs for their success and contribution to the country’s socio-economic development.