Vietnam No.2 bank BIDV gets approval for $2.5 bln listing

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BIDV, Vietnam's second-biggest bank by assets, has won approval to list on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange at an initial market value of $2.5 billion in what would be the country's biggest-ever stock debut.

BIDV's listing would be the first in a series from state-owned enterprises which the government has ordered to go public this year, including national carrier Vietnam Airlines and textile maker Vinatex.

The government is reforming a state sector plagued by debt and mismanagement. It is considering easing economic controls which could prompt Vietnam's larger companies to sell shares.

The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) will list 2.8 billion shares representing around 28 trillion dong ($1.33 billion) of registered capital, BIDV Deputy General Director Tran Phuong told Reuters.

The bank has set a starting price of 18,700 dong per share, said Phuong. Vietnam's government owns 95.8 percent of BIDV but it is unclear whether it would reduce its stake upon listing.

The debut could take place between now and April, Phuong said. A source close to the listing plan said it could be later this month.

BIDV had planned to list over a year ago but delayed because of financial market instability and a stock slump.

BIDV raised $75 million by selling 3 percent, or 84.75 million, of its shares in an initial public offering in December 2011. Foreign investors bought 0.15 percent of the offering.

IPO and listing are two separate processes in Vietnam.

The government from February will allow foreign investors to hold larger stakes in domestic banks. It also plans to raise the foreign ownership cap in some listed firms to 60 percent from 49 percent.

Vietnam's benchmark stock index rose 21 percent last year making it Southeast Asia's best performer. It has risen in each of the past 10 sessions, hitting its highest level on Thursday since May 2010.

On Friday it advanced 2 percent, with all five listed banks gaining, as investors bet on a brighter outlook for banking shares and the market as a whole after BIDV shares join the board, stock analysts said.

BIDV said January-September net profit nearly doubled from a year earlier to 3.1 trillion dong on higher earnings from securities trading.

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