SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Warburg Pincus is investing more than $370 million in Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Techcombank) IPO-VTC.HM, in what it said was the largest ever private equity investment to date in the Southeast Asian nation.
Share listings and equity offerings are booming in Vietnam as the country speeds up its privatization drive, supported by a strong stock market. Vietnam’s main stock index .VNI rose nearly 50 percent last year, making it Asia’s strongest performer.
Warburg Pincus did not disclose the size of its stake in the bank following the transaction but a source familiar with the matter said it would own less than 10 percent and that it would become one of the bank’s biggest shareholders.
“The investment into TCB (Techcombank) marks our continued commitment and strong belief in the long-term prospects for Vietnam,” Jeffrey Perlman, head of Southeast Asia at Warburg Pincus said in a statement on Monday, adding that Vietnam was one of the fastest growing banking markets in Southeast Asia.
Techcombank, a 25-year-old bank, says it is one of the largest private sector joint-stock banks in Vietnam by total operating income and profit before tax. It doubled its pre-tax profit to 8 trillion Vietnam dong ($351 million) in 2017 from a year ago, exceeding its target. The bank is targeting 25 percent growth this year.
Sources familiar with the deal said Techcombank and Warburg Pincus had been in talks about the funding since late last year and the deal would not affect the bank’s plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO). This month, Techcombank’s shareholders approved a plan to list shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange.
A second source said Techcombank was looking to launch a $500 million to $600 million IPO in June.
The sources declined to be identified as details of the IPO and the talks are confidential.
“Vietnam is a very, very underpenetrated banking market. Techcombank has a multi-year runway for growth,” said the first source, adding that the bank’s financial metrics were far ahead of both state-run and private sector banks.
Warburg said it was investing in Techcombank through two separate legal entities managed by the private equity firm. The investment is subject to regulatory approvals. It said the deal brings its total commitment in the country to more than $1 billion.
“The Vietnamese economy and the banking sector are experiencing tremendous growth right now,” said Ho Hung Anh, Techcombank’s chairman.
($1 = 22,758.0000 dong)
Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Additional reporting by Hanoi bureau; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Dasha Afanasieva