June 1, 2018 / 7:16 AM / in 10 months

Vietnam's Techcombank pursues retail push after major IPO

SINGAPORE/HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam’s Techcombank, fresh after raising $922 million from global investors, aims to expand aggressively into retail banking to capitalize on booming demand for an array of financial services, its senior executives said on Friday.

“On the lending side, we are having an increasing orientation toward retail, a disproportionate amount of which would be mortgages,” Chief Financial Officer Trinh Bang told Reuters in an interview.

The 25-year-old bank, formally Vietnam Technological & Commercial Joint Stock Bank, is seeing strong growth in services such as credit cards, auto loans and bancassurance, Trinh said.

The comments come after the Hanoi-based lender priced its April initial public offering (IPO) at the top of a marketing range, valuing it at $6.5 billion and making it Vietnam’s second-biggest listed bank after state-controlled Vietcombank.

As the issue was not sold to retail investors, bankers refer to it as an Initial Equity Offering instead of an Initial Public Offering.

Cornerstone investors included Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd [GIC.UL], Fidelity Management & Research and domestic fund Dragon Capital. Together, they bought 76 percent of shares offered in the IPO - one of the largest amounts among Vietnam IPO cornerstones.

Techcombank’s appeal stems from a boom in financial services while the economy expands at record rates.

Vietnam reported annual credit expansion of about 18 percent for the past two years, with banks posting strong profit growth. A manufacturing boom spurred the export-dependent economy to grow 7.4 percent in January-March - the fastest first-quarter pace in a decade - after growing 6.8 percent in all of 2017.

“Our strategy is very much in line with changing demographics and the growing affluence of young professionals,” said Chief Executive Officer Nguyen Le Quoc Anh.

Techcombank provides a range of products and services to over 5.4 million customers through a network of 315 branches.

The bank, which will list its shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange on Monday, expects mortgages to make up a key portion of lending growth as it focuses on Vietnam’s expanding workforce, which is seeing a rise in disposable income.

“Over the next two to three years, key for us is to continue shifting toward retail and mortgages,” said CEO Quoc Anh. “The rationale is that mortgages are safest in terms of provisions and give us the highest return on risk-weighted assets.”

Techcombank expects retail lending to grow to 50 percent of total loans over the next two to three years from 40 percent, CEO Quoc Anh said.

In a report this year, credit-rating firm Standard & Poor’s said credit risk at Vietnamese banks was extremely high, reflecting high private-sector debt, low income levels, legacy stressed assets and rudimentary underwriting standards. It also said banking regulations lag international standards.

Techcombank’s IPO followed a $370 million investment agreement earlier this year from Warburg Pincus LLC [WP.UL], in the largest-ever private equity investment in Vietnam.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE and Mai Nguyen in HANOI; Editing by Christopher Cushing/David Evans

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