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August 20, 2008

Vietnam’s foreign ownership cap remains at 30%
Vietnam's central bank on Tuesday reaffirmed its foreign ownership ceiling in domestic banks was unchanged at 30 percent, dismissing speculation that it had changed the investment limits, reported Reuters.

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

The central 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 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 partly private Techcombank to 20 percent, the ceiling for foreign ownership in a domestic bank.

Apart from HSBC, nine other foreign banks including Standard Chartered Plc, SMFG, Societe Generale and ANZ, have also bought shares in Vietnamese banks of between 10 and 15 percent.

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