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Foreign ownership cap in banks unchanged, says central bank   2008-08-20 - TN, Agencies

Two clients at a branch of ANZ Bank in Ho Chi Minh City. ANZ owns a 10 percent stake of Vietnam’s Sacombank. Pending government approval, a strategic foreign investor can buy up to 20 percent of a domestic bank.  
The central bank Tuesday reaffirmed that the foreign ownership ceiling in domestic banks is unchanged at 30 percent, dismissing speculation it has amended the limit.



"Recently rumors appeared on financial-banking markets saying the government raised the share ownership by foreign investors and foreign strategic investors," the State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement.

“The rumors have affected… the investment environment for foreign investors in the banking sector.” The bank said the foreign ownership ceiling remained at 30 percent of the registered capital of a Vietnamese bank, as per a government decree issued in April 2007.

A foreign investor can own a maximum of 5 percent of a Vietnamese bank, a foreign bank is allowed a maximum 10 percent, while a foreign strategic investor – often a foreign lender – can take a stake of up to 15 percent.

Pending government approval, a strategic foreign investor can buy up to 20 percent of a domestic bank, the central bank's statement said, citing the government decree.

The statement was issued after the Vietnamese government allowed London-based HSBC Holdings Plc to raise its stake in Techcombank to 20 percent, the ceiling for foreign ownership in a domestic bank.

Nine other foreign banks, including Standard Chartered Plc, SMFG, Societe Generale and ANZ, have also bought between 10 and 15 percent in Vietnamese banks.

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