CVC considers selling minority stake in Vietnam’s $4 billion Asia Commercial Bank – sources

By Phuong Nguyen and Yantoultra Ngui

HANOI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – CVC Capital Partners is considering selling its minority stake in Vietnam’s fourth biggest non-state owned commercial lender, Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The Europe-based alternative investment firm is in talks with an adviser to explore the sale of its stake of less than 5% in the Ho Chi Minh-listed bank following approaches from potential buyers, including from Japan, the sources said.

Deliberations are ongoing and no final decision has been made, they said, declining to be named as the information was private. CVC’s stake in the bank, which focuses on the retail and small-to-medium enterprise markets, is worth up to $200 million based on ACB’s market capitalization of $4.03 billion as of Friday. One of the sources said an existing foreign owner in ACB would have to sell for others to pick up a stake as foreign ownership in ACB had reached the 30% cap set by the government. “The only way for foreign investors to get a foothold in the bank is getting the shares transferred from a current foreign one,” the person said.

CVC is expected to hold talks with a potential Japanese buyer soon, the source added.

CVC declined to comment. ACB did not respond to a request for comment.

The bank recorded a 12.56% net profit increase in the third quarter of 2023 from a year earlier.

Vietnam’s banking sector has witnessed an increase in mergers and acquisitions in the past few years with investors doubling down on their investments to tap the Southeast Asian country’s stable economic growth.

Vietnamese lenders are also seeking to bolster their capital amid global uncertainties. Established in 1993 and headquartered in Ho Chi Minh city, ACB had more than 13,000 employees and a total of 384 branches in 49 out of 63 provinces in Vietnam as of end-2022, according to its website. CVC invested in ACB in 2017, according to its website, which does not disclose financial details of the investment. An active investor in Southeast Asia, CVC last year bought a minority stake in Indonesian gas company Samator Indo Gas from existing shareholders for $155 million. In December 2022, it sold its minority stake in Indonesia’s Garuda food Putra Putri Jaya to U.S-based Hormel Foods Corp.

($1 = 0.9133 euros)

(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi and Yantoultra Ngui in Singapore; Editing by Kane Wu and Sonali Paul)