Bao Viet Insurance gains by daily limit on debut

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The country's largest insurer, Bao Viet Insurance & Finance Group, shot up by the 20 percent daily limit on its first day of trading at the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange.

The company, 10 percent owned by HSBC Holdings Plc, jumped by 20 percent to VND46,200 (US$2.59), from the VND38,500 starting price. The stock traded at VND39,500 in the so-called over-the-counter market Wednesday, according to FPT Securities Inc. Bao Viet listed 573 million shares it sold in an initial public offering in June 2007.

"The company listed at a time when the sentiment of investors is very exciting," said Phung Trung Kien, head of research at APEC Securities. "Besides the state of the market, Bao Viet has the advantage of being a big company, and investors have been waiting for its listing for quite a long time."

The listing boosts the number of companies on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange to 162. Stocks other than those that trade for the first time are allowed to rise or fall a maximum 5 percent.

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Joint-Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam, known as Vietcombank, will list 112.3 million shares on the exchange on June 30, while Vietnam Bank for Industry & Trade, said it plans to list 134 million shares on July 16.

Bao Viet had pretax profit of VND842 billion ($47 million) in the January-May period, 109 percent of its full-year target, the insurer said in a statement last week. Revenue rose 6.5 percent from the same period last year to more than VND4 trillion.

HSBC plans to increase its stake in Bao Viet to 18 percent this year pending government approval, Charles Gregory, Vietnam head of HSBC Insurance Holdings Ltd. said June 22.

The London-based bank has an option to raise its stake to 25 percent, the maximum allowed by the Vietnamese government, Gregory said.

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