Bao Viet Insurance to list shares on June 25

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Bao Viet Insurance & Finance Group, 10 percent owned by HSBC Holdings Plc, will list shares on June 25 after a delay from last year because of the slump in Vietnam's stock market.

The country's biggest insurer expects a market value of about VND22 trillion (US$1.24 billion) as it lists about 573 million shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange with an initial price of VND38,500 per share, Chairman Le Quang Binh said in a meeting Tuesday in Hanoi.

"It's the right time" to list the shares, Charles Gregory, Vietnam head of HSBC Insurance Holdings Ltd. said in an interview Tuesday. "Confidence among investors is very high at the moment."

Bao Viet delayed its trading debut last year because of the plunge in the stock market.

The Hanoi-based company sold the shares in an initial public offering in June 2007. They traded at VND39,500 on the over-the-counter market on June 19, according to FPT Securities Inc.

Bao Viet had pretax profit of VND842 billion in the January-May period, 109 percent of its full-year target, the company said in a statement Tuesday. 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, Hanoi-based Gregory said.

"We are still in discussions about the timeframe, but I'm confident that it will be in the near future,"

Gregory said. "I would like to think it will be this year."

The London-based bank bought 10 percent of Bao Viet in 2007 for $255 million, and has an option to raise its stake to 25 percent, the maximum allowed by the government.

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