Myanmar grants operating licenses to four more Asian banks

Stacks of Myanmar kyat are seen on the counter before a client collects them, at a bank in Yangon, Myanmar October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Minzayar

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar has granted operating licenses to four Asian banks, bringing to 13 the number of foreign banks allowed to conduct business in the previously isolated country.

Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam, State Bank of India, Taiwan’s Sun Commercial Bank and South Korea’s Shinhan Bank were granted preliminary licenses, Myanmar’s Foreign Bank Licensing Committee said in a statement on Friday.

The approval gives the banks 12 months to demonstrate they can fulfill business plans laid out in their application to Myanmar’s government before they will be granted permanent licenses, the statement said.

The decision is just the second time Myanmar has granted licenses for foreign banks to open since a semi-civilian government took over in 2011.

An earlier round in late 2014 saw licenses granted to nine foreign banks, also all from Asian countries. Myanmar is home to 24 private local banks and four state owned banks.

Myanmar has pursued far-reaching reforms since the end a half-century of harsh military rule in 2011 in the hope of reversing isolation that saw the country become one of Asia’s poorest.

Reporting by Aung Hla Tun in Yangon; Editing by Aubrey Belford and Eric Meijer