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Singapore lender eyes GPBank stake

Update: September, 21/2013 - 09:34
Workers prepare a new GPBank branch in Ha Noi's Ngo Quyen Street. — VNS Photo Doan Tung

HA NOI (VNS)— Singapore's United Overseas Bank (UOB) may acquire a significant stake of Global Petro Bank (GPBank) if authorised, according to a private source of Dau Tu (Viet Nam Investment Review) online.

GPBank is among nine fragile banks which were to be restructured under Government schemes to strengthen the domestic banking system. While eight other banks have been reorganised, GPBank's plan is still under consideration.

The State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) said on Monday that it was consulting Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung about the remaining weak bank, and there was a possibility that the bank would be consolidated with capital contribution from a foreign credit institution.

GPBank has over VND3 trillion (US$142.86 million) in equity, according to its website.

UOB – providing multi-area services globally through networks in Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America – is highly ranked by credit rating organisations including Moody's and Standard&Poor.

It is among Singapore's leading banks in several areas, including credit card services, individual housing credit and small – and medium-sized enterprises financing.

The Singaporean bank first invested in Viet Nam in 2008 when it spent over VND480 billion (US$22.86 million) to buy a 10 per cent stake in Southern Bank. After two more share acquisitions, it now holds a 20 per cent stake and is a strategic shareholder of Southern Bank.

Domestic regulations currently allow foreign investors to own a maximum equity of 15 per cent in local banks, or 20 per cent in special cases permitted by the Government.

A revised regulation under Government consideration says that foreigner holdings can exceed 30 per cent with special permission for the sake of the credit institution restructuring process.

The eight banks that have been restructured through mergers or self-reorganisation are TrustBank (now Viet Nam Construction Bank), Ficombank, Sai Gon Commercial Bank, TinNghiaBank, Habubank, Western Bank, Navibank and TienPhong Bank.

The SBV said it would specify more weak institutions for drastic treatment in this year, while affirming that the credit institution system was operating better than it did in the first eight months of 2013. — VNS


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