ANZ to sell retail unit in Vietnam following regional exit to DBS: Report

A man walks past a branch of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) in Sydney October 29, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

ANZ is looking to exit its retail banking operation in Vietnam, and five commercial lenders have submitted bids for the sale, according to local media.

The Saigon Times was the first publication to report the news, which said three foreign banking institutions and two Vietnamese lenders were interested (in the sale). ANZ did not comment when contacted.

Even as the Australian bank started its “super-regional strategy” in 2007, built on retail, wealth management, commercial and institutional banking; institutional business proved to be its strongest operation.

Earlier declaring retail banking as the strategy to attract growth momentum in Asia, it, however, fell through as the Melbourne-based lender sold its retail and wealth management units in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Taiwan and Indonesia to DBS last year. ANZ reportedly said it booked a loss of A$265 million on the sale.

The bank had previously attributed the exits to limited scalability and increased regulatory costs.

Reuters then quoted ANZ’s CEO Shayne Elliott that it would pull back from Vietnam’s operations along with several other Southeast Asian countries.

Meanwhile, The Saigon Times cites its source that the Vietnam unit transaction will not involve DBS.

ANZ has been financially structuring its businesses through cutting both inefficient assets and investments into other institutions, including the recent A$1.8 billion ($1.32 billion) exit from Shanghai Rural Bank, and pending close of AMMB Holdings Berhad, PT Bank Pan Indonesia and Tianjin.

In Vietnam, the bank used to be a strategic investor in Sacombank and Saigon Securities Inc, before respectively divesting the holdings in 2012 and 2014.

“Our strategic priority is to create a simpler, better capitalised, better balanced bank focussed on attractive areas where we can carve out winning positions,” ANZ said in filing with the ASX last year to elaborate on the strategy of beefing up its core.

Seven wholly foreign-owned lenders have forayed into Vietnam, the latest to enter being South Korea’s Woori Bank, after Public Bank Berhad, ANZ, Standard Chartered, Shinhan Bank, Hong Leong and early mover HSBC.

However, local Vietnamese banks are more active in the retail banking battle, as they push forward to tap the 70 per cent of adult population who are unbanked or underbanked, and small to medium businesses, which account for more than 90 per cent of the total companies and have high demand for capital access.

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