Monday, July 14, 2008

ANZ to become locally incorporated in Vietnam

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), which is Australia's third biggest lender, is rapidly expanding its banking operations in Vietnam. It plans to open four new outlets in Vietnam and has received approval in principle from the government to incorporate locally, which means it will be able to offer the same type of services to customers that domestic lenders can provide.

"ANZ regards expansion in Vietnam as one of its highest priorities in Asia," says Alex Thursby, ANZ's group managing director for Asia-Pacific. "Incorporation is the natural next step in our growth strategy. The newly incorporated bank will extend ANZ’s distribution to meet the needs of Vietnam’s growing affluent population who are looking for more convenient access to bank branches, as well as products such as mortgage loans, credit cards, car loans and better savings and investments."

ANZ says it will retain its existing foreign bank branch in Hanoi. The new ANZ retail outlets will be established over the next four years in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other cities.

"ANZ's proposed growth strategy in Vietnam represents a welcome expansion of the bilateral investment relationship and also sends a clear signal to investors that Vietnam is open for business," Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith said, according to an ANZ press release.

ANZ opened in Vietnam in 1993 and has branches in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as a representative office in Can Tho Province. ANZ says it introduced the first ATM in Vietnam, completed the first project finance deal and was the first to establish a leasing business. ANZ’s interests in Vietnam include partnerships with Vietnam’s leading securities and investment banking company Saigon Securities Inc (13.9% equity stake), and with Vietnam’s leading joint stock bank Sacombank (10% equity stake).

ANZ’s new licence comes after a 15-year presence in Vietnam under a foreign bank branch licence. Permission for local incorporation of foreign banks in Vietnam follows Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2007, which has encouraged the communist country to open up to foreign investments. The establishment of ANZ’s new bank in Vietnam remains subject to approval by various regulatory authorities.

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