Vietnam central bank plans to take over more troubled lenders

Thanh Nien News

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The central bank is going to take over GPBank after a foreign buyer withdrew. Photo credit: VnExpress The central bank is going to take over GPBank after a foreign buyer withdrew. Photo credit: VnExpress

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The State Bank of Vietnam is planning to take over at least two more banks which have not been able to sort out their financial and managerial troubles, an official said.
Deputy Governor Nguyen Phuoc Thanh told local media on Saturday that the central bank is likely to acquire Global Petro Bank (GPBank), which has been in the red for some time, and Ocean Bank, whose leaders were arrested in recent months over lending violations.
Thanh said the takeovers will be similar to the one with Vietnam Bank for Construction (VNBC) earlier this year. 
The central bank decided to acquire VNBC in January after its shareholders met to raise the bank’s registered capital but then voted against such a plan.
The capital level was not divulged at the time, but was believed to have fallen far below VND3 trillion (US$140.6 million), the minimum requirement for commercial banks in Vietnam.
According to the central bank, it did not have to pay anything for the takeover.
Vietnam’s government introduced a new regulation in September 2013, allowing the central bank to restructure a weak bank by purchasing its shares.
VNBC is the first bank which the regulation has been applied to, making it the second lender fully owned by the government. The other, Agribank, is one of Vietnam's largest lender.
Thanh said GPBank is one of the troubled banks which have always been pushed for restructuring through mergers or acquisitions.
It was in negotiations to join a foreign bank as of March last year, but the deal fell through, opening the bank to state ownership. 
Thanh said OceanBank posted a pre-tax profit of VND232 billion ($10.9 million) in 2013 but has faced managerial problems with recent arrests of its chairman and several executives.
They have been accused of approving a VND500 billion ($23.5 million) loan to a real estate firm in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012 without proper collateral. The company is now likely to default on the loan.
Central bank officials have said several weak banks are having their own plans to merge with stronger banks this year.
Among potential mergers are Nam A Bank joining Eximbank, PGBank into Vietinbank, Saigon Bank to Vietcombank, and Mekong Housing Bank merging with the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam.

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