Vietnam's best international bank 2018: Standard Chartered
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Vietnam's best international bank 2018: Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered

Nirukt Sapru, CEO, Vietnam and ASEAN & South Asia Cluster Markets, Standard Chartered Bank.jpg
Nirukt Sapru, Standard Chartered

Some international lenders don’t quite know what to make of Vietnam. Perhaps the last great, untapped emerging market, it is bursting with potential, but still a work-in-progress. It oozes growth and entrepreneurial spirit, yet the capital markets are young and there are precious few firms of genuine scale.

Faced with this situation, some lenders prefer to dip only one toe in, focusing on investment banking or premium retail services, say, or facilitating the vast inflows of foreign direct investment. Standard Chartered is one of the few international lenders of scale to commit fully to the fast-growing Asean market.

Wherever you look, you see it at work, creating new jobs (600 added to its domestic roster in the 12 months to the end of May), working with the government as the sole sovereign credit ratings adviser, and increasing its capital base. (It raised its onshore charter capital to $156 million from $136 million in February, and aims to take that to $186 million, an investment that, the bank says “reinforces [our] long-term commitment to Vietnam”.)

StanChart’s Vietnam chief executive, Nirukt Sapru, notes that the bank was one of the first to re-enter the country and to turn its domestic operations into a subsidiary, in 2009.

“Our business is very well balanced between corporate, commercial and retail,” Sapru adds. “We are one of the biggest and fastest-growing foreign banks here and consider ourselves the go-to bank for foreign investors into Vietnam and for Vietnamese looking to do business with the world.”

A regular participant in the chunky equity and debt deals that pepper the market, Standard Chartered is a leader in other ways, too, investing $2.2 million between 2016 and 2018 in the ‘Seeing is believing’ programme to provide eye care to children and the elderly.

It holds an 85% market share for open-ended funds and a 90% market share for exchange-traded funds. It was Vietnam’s leading financing bank in the 12 months to the end of May, according to Dealogic, ahead of Credit Suisse and Maybank.