Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Vietnam insurer Bao Viet to list as market recovers

HANOI, June 17 (Reuters) - Vietnam's largest insurer, Bao Viet Holdings, will make its share debut next week and become the largest firm to list on the main bourse this year, a move set to boost investor sentiment after stocks slumped last year.

The listing of Bao Viet -- 10 percent owned by HSBC Plc (HSBA.L) -- on June 25 and share debuts by two major banks, Vietcombank and VietinBank, could also lure more foreign investors into the Southeast Asian country's rapidly recovering stock market.

"It's a very good time now to list Bao Viet and the banks, all dinosaur-sized shares, when the market is neither falling nor at its peak," said Nguyen Chi Trung, director of securities transactions at Rong Viet Securities, in Ho Chi Minh City.

Hanoi-based Bao Viet said it has secured a licence to list 573 million shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange .VNI next Thursday, after it secured a listing licence on Tuesday.

Bao Viet did not say at what price its shares would start trading, but based on the 37,000 dong to 39,000 dong ($2.08-$2.19) its shares traded at on the domestic unregulated markets this week, the group is valued at around $1.25 billion.


In recent weeks, China also decided to resume listings after an eight-month hiatus, encouraged by the market rally that has pushed Morgan Stanley's index of Asian shares excluding Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS up by about a half since early March.

Vietnam shares have risen nearly 50 percent so far this year after declining 66 percent in 2008. The index closed up 0.11 percent at 472.47 points on Wednesday and has doubled from its February lows on investor optimism about a recovery in the economy, helped by government stimulus efforts.

The exchange last saw a major debut in November, when shares of PVFC PVF.HM, the $725-million financial arm of state oil monopoly Petrovietnam group, came aboard. The firm now valued at $1.28 billion is the market's biggest stock.

Le Chi Phuc, managing director of the Research and Investment Advisory unit at VNDirect Securities, said the listing of major financials will increase the size of the market, now at $15 billion.

"Foreign investors will be more interested in Vietnam's stock markets after the market capitalisation has been raised to a new level," Phuc said, adding that the listings will help kick the privatisation of state-owned firms which slowed this year.

Bao Viet shares, to be coded BVH, would be the start of a wave of financials making debut this month and next.

Vietcombank, the country's largest partly private bank by assets, is set to start trading on June 30. VietinBank, the fourth-largest lender, plans to list in July.

Bao Viet shares could take a cue from a rally in other financial shares this year, such as Saigon Securities SSI.HM which has seen its share price more than double in 2009.

Bao Viet said it made a gross profit of 314.2 billion dong ($17.65 million) in the first quarter of this year, making up 40 percent its annual projection for 2009.

Bao Viet Insurance Corp, the group subsidiary dealing with the insurance market, made a gross profit of nearly 200 billion dong last year. It had almost a one-third share of the domestic insurance market, making it the largest player, the Finance Ministry said.

Bao Viet group has forecast revenue would rise 15 percent a year during the 2008-2010 period and that annual profit growth would be 21-22 percent, reaching 1.52 trillion dong by 2010. ($1=17,794 dong)

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