Sacombank denies takeover rumors

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Sacombank, Vietnam's fifth largest partly private lender by assets, has rejected rampant rumors that the bank could be acquired by an investor.

The rumors started circulating at the end of last month as more than 25 million STB shares changed hands on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange from June 29 to July 8. This means that more than four million STB shares were traded each day during the period, much higher than the bank's average daily trading volume of 1.35 million shares during June.

Chairman Dang Van Thanh said that he had heard a rumor that a local individual was collecting STB shares in large numbers, but he didn't have enough information to confirm or deny this rumor.

"If an investor buys 5 percent of a listed company's registered capital, stock authorities will announce this information to the public. Sacombank always welcomes all investors, foreigners and locals alike, to invest in the bank. So, if a local individual invests in STB shares, this is a good news," Thanh told Tuoi Tre newspaper in an interview published Monday.

He firmly rejected rumors that the investor who is snapping up STB shares in huge volumes can control Sacombank and therefore, there are unlikely to be some personnel changes at the management level.

He added that his family currently holds a 30 percent stake in Sacombank.

"In addition, to obtain an important position in the bank's management board, apart from holding a major stake, a person must satisfy some standards set for specialized qualifications. He or she also has to gain the trust of the management board's members, the board of supervisors, as well as Sacombank's strategic partners," said Thanh.

Another rumor that has been doing the rounds after Thanh's wife, daughter and daughter-in-law registered to sell more than 14.8 million STB shares last week is that they plan to sell their entire stake and that the family wants to divest from the bank.

Thanh denied this rumor, saying that all these shares would be bought by the Thanh Thanh Cong Company, whose chairman is his wife Huynh Bich Ngoc and deputy general director is his daughter-in-law Ho Thi Phuong Thao.

Thanh Thanh Cong, a firm engaged in sugar trading, tourism, real estate, and financial investments, registered to buy 15 million STB shares between June 1 and August 1 to raise its holding from 0.46 percent to 2.1 percent, according to a statement posted on the HCMC bourse at the end of May.

Thanh explained that the share sale plan of his family members is to transfer ownership from individuals to a company so that the firm will manage its stake "more professionally".

In the first half of this year, Sacombank posted a profit of 1.52 trillion (US$74 million), or 56 percent of the whole year's target. The bank's total assets were valued at VND141 trillion ($6.86 billion).

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