Maybank wants bigger role in Việt Nam’s banking industry

Malaysian-based Maybank has acquired a stake in Kim Eng Securities besides its holding of a 20% stake in Việt Nam’s An Binh Bank in a move to deepen its presence in Việt Nam’s financial market.

Dato Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, chairman and CEO of Maybank, spoke with The Saigon Times in Kuala Lumpur on the banking group’s business vision in Việt Nam.

Excerpts follow.

What are your plans in Vietnam for the years to come?

We believe that we’d be most effective if we were to have all of our own branches (in Việt Nam).

That was our original intention but obviously given the fact that we’re not locally incorporated in Việt Nam as yet so that has restricted our capacity to open additional branches.

There have been discussions before about expanding presence via local incorporation but that remains a discussion point within the regulators.

Whilst we pursue that, I think the other alternative would be to have greater influence and participation in An Bình Bank.

Obviously our ability to do more in An Bình Bank is also limited by the 20% shareholding that we have but we would like to play a more meaningful role when the opportunity comes.

So do you think you would buy stock in another bank bigger than An Bình?

No, we are not looking at other entities.

We need to focus on the current ones that we have and I think that we can make it work better.

So the other way would be to grow An Bình Bank to make it bigger, as opposed to looking at another bank.

And it is our belief that Việt Nam has got great potential for growth; I think it’s just a matter of time before Việt Nam will become a strong economy.

And, in order to facilitate a strong economy, you need a number of strong banks to help fuel economic activities, like what we have seen in other markets.

So it is our hope that An Binh Bank will be able to play that role.

Do you have intention to open Maybank as a 100% foreign capital entity in Việt Nam?

This has been discussed before.

I think our intention would be to open more branches if it is within our ability.

Just like in Cambodia, we had had three branches there for many years and in recent times we’ve decided to increase our presence and now we have 11 branches.

We feel that it’s time to locally incorporate and this is actually encouraged by Cambodian authorities.

We’d be prepared to do the same in Việt Nam, if we are able to open more branches.

If you expand your presence in Việt Nam, would it be investment banking or commercial banking?

We believe in the universal banking model.

If you look at how successful we’ve been here in Malaysia, it’s because we have retail, commercial and investment banking activities as part of the group.

And when you have those activities, they are able to complement each other and you can certainly serve your corporate customers well.

With the acquisition of Kim Eng, we are now able to expand our investment banking activities to Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and of course Việt Nam.

I think with Maybank Kim Eng Việt Nam, we have strengthened our position there and it is our hope to be able to grow Maybank Kim Eng Việt Nam to also become the number one investment bank in Việt Nam.

Many Việt Nam banks, including An Bìh, have a lot of challenges at the moment.

Do you think that you will consolidate the relationship with An Bình to help it overcome such challenges?

Let me reiterate that we are fully committed to growing within ASEAN and believe in the future of ASEAN.

Việt Nam is a major economy within ASEAN and it is our intention to have a permanent, long-term presence in Việt Nam.

Along the way, there will be challenges but if you remain steadfast and you’re in there for the long-haul, you will find ways to improve the situation.

And it is our belief that with any country to prosper, it must be supported by a strong financial system.

A strong financial system comes with strong players in the market.

I think thatViệt Nam will benefit greatly from the presence of strong ASEAN-based banks that will help to facilitate trade and investment flows between Việt Nam and the other ASEAN countries, and even outside of ASEAN.

 Source: The Saigon Times

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