September 8, 2008 / 3:11 AM / 11 years ago

Vietnam Eximbank enters gold trading business

HANOI, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Vietnam’s partly private Eximbank, 15 percent owned by SMFG (8316.T), opened a gold trading floor in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday to tap one of the country’s main investment channels, the bank said in a statement.

Ho Chi Minh City-based Eximbank said it was working with Saigon Jewelry Holding Co (SJC) to run the floor, the fourth in the city, after three such facilities run by Asia Commercial Bank (ACB.HN), Viet A Bank and Southern Bank.

SJC is the manufacturer of SJC gold popular in Vietnam’s trading and in real estate transactions.

As the State Bank of Vietnam has been tightening credit to help control double-digit inflation, Vietnamese banks have seen their profit generated purely from lending activities decline.

They have been expanding to new areas, including gold trading after stock investors fled one of the world’s worst-performing markets this year to seek higher returns. The main exchange .VNI has lost 43 percent so far this year.

Gold prices in Vietnam have risen 8 percent so far in 2008 but are still below the year-high of 19.51 million dong ($1,182) per tael in late May. One tael is equivalent to nearly 1.21 ounces.

Southern Bank, 10 percent owned by Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOBH.SI), said its gold trading floor started operation last Friday in Ho Chi Minh City.

It is the first official trading facility in Vietnam to run a session, one of its three daily, at between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. (1000-1600 GMT) to catch up with movements on European and U.S. markets. ($1=16,499 dong) (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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