Maybank completes An Binh stake buy

KUALA LUMPUR: Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has completed the acquisition of 17.8 million shares or 5% in Vietnam’s An Binh Commercial Joint Stock Bank for about 356.3 billion dong (RM66.4mil).

“Currently, we have a 15% stake in An Binh Bank and the additional purchase will raise our stake to 20%,” president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said after a signing ceremony between Maybank and MoneyTree (M) Sdn Bhd to sponsor a year-long financial literacy programme for schoolchildren as well as the Maybank-MoneyTree Young Entrepreneur Start-up Challenger yesterday.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Maybank Investment Bank Bhd said on behalf of Maybank that the bank currently held 60.56 million shares in An Binh following its latest acquisition.

Maybank had on Dec 10 received a letter from An Binh Bank confirming, amongst others, that all approvals including regulatory approvals required from the Prime Minister’s Office, the State Bank of Vietnam and the State Securities Committee had been received.

Earlier, the country’s largest lender spent RM430mil to acquire a 15% stake in An Binh Bank.

With a 20% stake, Maybank’s holdings in the Vietnamese bank are at the maximum allowed for a foreign partner in Vietnam.

On another note, Wahid said Maybank’s exposure to Dubai was limited. “Our exposure is very small and it is manageable. It is less than 0.2% of our total assets,” he said.

To a question, he said: “Maybank has no intention of absorbing the RM50 service tax for credit cardholders proposed in Budget 2010.”

Wahid said if the bank were to absorb the service tax, it would defeat the Government’s purpose to encourage smart spending.

Maybank, which has about 1.6 million credit cards in circulation, is aggressively promoting debit-card usage.

Senior executive vice-president and consumer banking head Lim Hong Tat said Maybankard Visa Debit cards, launched in March 2008, had grown to over one million cards and would hit two million in a month or two.

Commenting on its outlook, Wahid said the bank was bullish on the economy next year. “Our in-house economists expect the economy to grow 4.5% next year. We expect 2010 to be a better year on the backdrop of an improving economy.”

On its partnership with MoneyTree, he said the programme was part of Maybank’s corporate responsibility efforts to promote financial education and awareness among the younger generation and cultivate entrepreneurship among tertiary students.

“The programme will enable them to be savvy banking customers and avoid personal debts and business losses,” he said.

Both programmes are expected to benefit about 25,000 participants.

MoneyTree chairman Datuk Nik Kamaruddin Ismail said growing credit-card debts, overspending and inability to service bank loans were clear indicators of the growing need and importance of promoting financial literacy.

“We cannot play down the importance of helping the young develop good money habits,” he added.

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