Vietnam's biggest bank sells stake to Singaporean investor

By AFP   August 29, 2016 | 08:02 pm PT
"This investment reflects our confidence in Vietnam’s long-term growth potential," said GIC.

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC will buy a 7.7 percent stake in Vietcombank, Vietnam's biggest bank, both companies said in a joint statement on Monday.

GIC signed a memorandum of agreement to buy 305.8 million new shares of Vietcombank, the fund's first significant direct investment in a Vietnamese commercial bank.

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, who is visiting Singapore, on Monday witnessed the signing of the deal, estimated by Bloomberg News to be worth some $400 million in a company worth $6.9 billion.

President Tran Dai Quang witnessed the signing of the deal. Photo from Vietcombank

President Tran Dai Quang (standing, fourth from left) witnessing the signing of the deal. Photo from Vietcombank

Vietcombank, established in 1963, is Vietnam's largest lender by market capitalization, the statement said.

The bank also plans to allow Japan's Mizuho Financial Group to buy additional stocks to maintain its 15 percent holding, Vietcombank chief executive Pham Quang Dung told Bloomberg News. The Japanese banking giant in 2011 paid nearly $570 million for its stake.

"This investment reflects our confidence in Vietnam’s long-term growth potential," said Amit Kunal, GIC head of direct investments group for Southeast Asia, private equity and infrastructure.

"GIC's strong reputation and experience will provide Vietcombank the support it needs to achieve its financial and business goals, both locally and internationally," said Vietcombank chairman Nghiem Xuan Thanh.

The deal is pending regulatory approval and is expected to be completed by end of the year.

Singapore is Vietnam's third largest investor, with a total registered investment capital of around $38 billion, the foreign ministries of both countries said in a separate joint statement.

GIC last month reported a substantial dip in returns and warned of difficult global investment conditions in the next decade.

Formerly known as the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, GIC manages Singapore's foreign reserves with a focus on long-term performance.

It does not disclose the exact value of its portfolio, saying only that it has "well over $100 billion of assets" in more than 40 countries, including real estate, equities and fixed-income investments.

The U.S.-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute says GIC has $344 billion of assets under management, making it the world's eighth largest.

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