Cross-ownership status in banks difficult to stop
The State Bank, while admitting that it is difficult to eliminate cross-ownership in commercial banks, said in many cases, institutions and individuals borrow money from credit institutions to buy bank stakes or contribute capital to banks.
Analysts, when talking about relations among Vietnamese banks, commented that this is a ‘spider’s web’. Though the central bank has stated that the cross-ownership status must be eliminated, while setting up limits in bank ownership ratios, the problem still has not been settled.
In fact, commercial banks have been trying to withdraw their capital contributed to other banks. Maritime Bank has divested from MB and it now holds less than 5 percent of MB’s charter capital instead of 8.96 percent as previously.
Meanwhile, VietinBank has lowered its ownership ratio in Saigon Bank from 10.39 percent to 4.91 percent.
Vietcombank contributes the most capital to other banks. It now holds stakes in four other credit institutions: 7 percent of capital of MB bank, 8.24 percent of Eximbank, 4.72 percent in OCB and 4.37 percent in Saigonbank. It also has 10.91 percent of stakes in the Cement Finance JSC.
Which shares will Vietcombank retain and which it will sell? Vietcombank’s chair Nghiem Xuan Thanh said the State Bank has allowed Vietcombank to maintain the current ownership ratio at MBB, a profitable bank.
He revealed that Vietcombank will only retain the capital contribution to two banks, while it will consider the market situation and banks’ business plan to make a decision on whether to keep the shares. As for OCB and Saigonbank, its share value is less than VND100 billion, a small investment compared with Vietcombank’s total assets.
As for Eximbank, though it held shareholders’ meetings twice in 2016, the withdrawal of 8.76 percent of capital from Sacombank was not mentioned. The cross-ownership ratio has been a big problem for Eximbank for many years because it causes personnel problems and internal conflicts.
In June 2016, Vietinbank successfully lowered its ownership ratio in Saigon Bank to 4.91 percent, followed by the move to withdraw capital from Sai Gon Port JSC and Hai Phong Port JSC.
In April 2016, MobiFone registered to sell its shares at SeABank and TP Bank. However, no investor showed interest in SeABank stakes.
Meanwhile, TP Bank could only find six investors who bought 8.7 millions shares. VNPT, a telecom group, still has not divested from Maritime Bank.
Bui Quang Tin from the HCMC Banking University said that it was not easy to find partners to transfer bank shares.
In most cases, the share prices at the time when banks contributed capital were higher, which means that banks would take a loss if selling shares now.
Chi Mai, VNN