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Vietnam's best domestic bank 2019: Vietcombank


Vietcombank, or the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam as it is officially named, aims to become Vietnam’s biggest bank by any measure by 2020.

And if Vietcombank continues to enjoy the kind of year it has had, it will be well on the way to achieving that. Even though it has some way to go in terms of assets – at $46 billion, Vietcombank is the smallest of Vietnam’s big four state-owned banks after Agribank ($58 billion), the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam ($55 billion), and VietinBank ($50 billion) – Vietcombank leads the way in profit.

In July it reported the highest pre-tax profits of any Vietnamese bank for the first six months of 2019, with earnings of D11.04 trillion ($475 million). That’s an increase of 43.1% on the same period in 2018, and that performance followed a stellar 2018 when annual profits rose 62%.

Vietcombank’s return on assets was 1.4% in 2018, up from 1% the previous year. Return on equity came in at 26.4%, besting the 18.8% of 2017.

Historically, Vietcombank has been the Vietnamese government’s most foreigner-facing bank; it was originally the foreign currency department of the central State Bank of Vietnam. As Vietnam continues its transformation from command to market economy, that outward-looking legacy has won Vietcombank plaudits among its sector peers as the most modern and customer-centric of Vietnam’s state-owned big four.

Vietcombank is a relatively rare corporate creature in Vietnam’s communist-controlled bureaucracy, a largely well-run, customer-focused state-owned company, one with more than eight million account-holders. Those virtues seemed to have appealed to two influential Asian investors. In January, it received a big shot of confidence when Japan’s Mizuho topped up its long-held 15% share and one of Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds, GIC, came onto the register, signing on for a 2.6% stake in the bank.

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