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NEWS UPDATES 17 March 2010

Vietnam: Australian bank to withdraw stake in Saigon bank

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Australia's ANZ Banking Group is looking to pull out of a tie-up with Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank, FP quoted the Vietnamese bank as saying, after opening a wholly-owned local unit in the communist state.

"ANZ has actively sought partners" to buy its shares, Dang Van Thanh, chairman of Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank (Sacombank), one of Vietnam's largest private lenders, said in a statement.

ANZ, one of the first foreign banks to operate in Vietnam when it opened a branch in 1993, bought its 10 percent stake in Sacombank five years ago. It received permission to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in late 2008.

In the statement issued late Monday, Thanh said Sacombank "respects the benefits and development strategy of ANZ" since setting up the local subsidiary.

"Now that ANZ has opened a wholly-owned bank in Vietnam, it wants to sell the stake to avoid any possible conflict of interest," a Sacombank official, who asked not to be named, told Dow Jones Newswires.

An ANZ spokeswoman said the bank reviews its partnerships from time to time, adding: "We have a strong organic growth strategy in Vietnam in our ANZ branded business and we are continuing to invest in that."


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