Saturday, December 29, 2007

Vietcombank IPO raises 656 million dollars: stock exchange

HANOI (AFP) — Vietcombank raised about 656 million dollars this week when it sold 6.5 percent of its shares, becoming the first Vietnamese state-owned bank to conduct an initial public offering.

The move comes as part of a drive to open up communist Vietnam's banking sector, with four more state-run commercial banks due to sell shares and be listed on the stock exchange next year.

The Vietcombank IPO raised about 10.5 trillion dong or 656 million dollars, the Ho Chi Minh City stock exchange said on its website.

Vietcombank, also known as the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam and valued at about 10 billion dollars, sold 97.5 million shares at an average price of 107,860 dong, up from a starting price of 100,000 dong.

Vietnam, which booked 8.4 percent economic growth this year, has a population of 84 million with rising spending power, but a nascent banking sector that is expected to grow rapidly in coming years.

Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization in January and has committed itself to opening up its banking industry to outside financial institutions. Several foreign banks have bought stakes in Vietnamese banks.

Vietnam, which launched its doi moi, or renewal, market reforms two decades ago, also plans to sell stakes in other state-owned enterprises, including large telecom companies, next year.