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* Vietnam aims to attract 6.5 million international visitors in 2012, an 8.3 percent increase from 2011, Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam newspaper reported, citing the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The country is also targeting a 15 percent increase in tourism revenue to VND150 trillion (US$7.14 billion) next year, according to the report.

* Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam, or BIDV, plans to list on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange by the end of June, Pham Quang Tung, vice general director, told reporters in Hanoi last week.

* Vietnam faces "huge" economic challenges and difficulties in 2012, according to a statement on the central bank's website, citing Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Challenges include tackling still-high inflation rates and borrowing costs, it said.

* The State Bank of Vietnam has licensed the Saigon Joint Stock Commercial Bank, which is formed by the merger of three local banks, to open on January 1. The new lender, also known as SCB, has a registered capital of VND10.58 trillion ($503 million).

* Vietnam's two stock exchanges in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will be merged in the 2012-2015 period, Vietnam News reported, citing the Finance Ministry. Details would be available in the first quarter of next year.

* The Ministry of Finance said prices of electricity, coal, fuel products and public services, which are heavily subsidized by the government, will be determined by the market no later than 2013. However, electricity prices will only be raised to a reasonable level in 2012 as the government aims to keep inflation under 10 percent, the ministry said last week.

* Fubon Insurance Vietnam Co. got Vietnam authority approval to set up a branch in Da Nang, Fubon Financial Holding Co. said in a statement to the Taiwan Exchange on Wednesday.

* Bankers suggested the central bank cap lending rates in 2012, such as at 17.5 percent per annum, to help enable business and production, they said at a conference in Da Nang on Monday.

* PetroVietnam Gas, which has a 70-percent share of the domestic market for its wholesale liquefied petroleum gas, said it planned to list shares on domestic markets in 2012. Its net profit in 2011 rose 13 percent from 2010 to VND6.04 trillion ($287.2 million), Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam newspaper reported.

* Vietnam's seafood exports rose 20 percent from 2010 to $6 billion in 2011, exceeding the annual target of $5.7 billion, Lao Dong newspaper reported, citing the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers.

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