Merge soon or else: Petrolimex threatens PGBank with capital withdrawal

By Minh Son   June 26, 2020 | 06:00 pm PT
Merge soon or else: Petrolimex threatens PGBank with capital withdrawal
Petrolimex employees work at a gas station in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.
State-owned petroleum distributor Petrolimex has threatened to pull its capital from subsidiary PGBank if it did not merge with private HDBank before August 31.

The information was shared by Tran Ngoc Nam, a board member of the Petrolimex Group Commercial Joint Stock Bank (PGBank), at a recent board meeting. Nam is the head of Petrolimex’s capital management committee at PGBank.

Petrolimex currently owns a 40 percent stake in PGBank.

"We cannot continue waiting any longer for the merger," Nam said, explaining that Petrolimex was under pressure from the government to divest its stake in PGBank.

Nam said that he has signed a document, as a shareholder, notifying both banks that if the merger was not completed by August 31 this year, Petrolimex would sell its 40 percent stake to other investors.

"Whatever negotiations need to take place with HDBank, and whatever tasks PGBank can implement, should be done now. The board of directors should soon put forward these issues to HDBank, and clearly express the view that the merger cannot wait forever," Nam said.

Nguyen Quang Dinh, Chairman of PGBank, said the merger with HDBank was moving forward, but receiving final approval from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) was proving difficult. The central bank had approved the merger in principle back in September 2018, he said.

In April 2018, the Ho Chi Minh City Development Joint Stock Bank (HDBank) had agreed to absorb unlisted PGBank in a merger, with each share of PGBank becoming 0.621 of a HDBank share. The merger was scheduled to take place in August that year.

HDBank had said then that the merger would serve to expand its client base, including with Petrolimex, which holds around 50 percent of Vietnam’s retail-transport fuel market.

As of December 2019, PGBank had assets of over VND31 trillion ($1.33 billion). It recorded a net interest income of VND855.43 billion ($36.64 million), up 0.9 percent year-on-year, and after-tax profits of VND74.62 billion ($3.2 million), down 40 percent year-on-year, as a result of having to set aside provisions for credit risk.

PGBank’s shareholders earlier this month approved the listing of its shares on the Unlisted Public Companies Market (UPCoM), a mezzanine exchange to Vietnam’s two main bourses with lower disclosure requirements aimed to encourage companies to trade their shares publicly.

HDBank, considered a mid-sized lender in Vietnam, had nearly VND232 trillion ($9.94 billion) in total assets, roughly 13 times that of PGBank, as of last December.

The retail bank, whose vice chairwoman is Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, the billionaire founder and chairwoman of Vietjet Air, earned VND9.75 trillion ($417.62 million) in interest income last year, up 27.5 percent year-on-year, and post-tax profits of VND4.02 trillion ($172.18 million), up 25.6 percent year-on-year.

The private bank listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) in November 2017, netting $300 million on its IPO. Its HDB ticker currently sits in the VN30 basket of Vietnam’s highest capped stocks.

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