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Vietnamese banks welcome foreign CEOs   2012-03-20 - SGTT

It’s now the time for Vietnamese banks to apply necessary measures to polish their images, make heavy investment to upgrade technology, launch new services and seek foreign strategic partners. Many of them have hired foreign chief executive officers (CEOs), believing that this is a good way to improve the corporate governance.

Mekong Bank has a foreign CEO

Officers of Maritime Bank (MSB) recently have noted that an Indian person goes to their head office every day. Most of them still do not know that the Indian person would be their new general director. The man’s profile is now on the table of the State Bank’s leaders, who are considering appointing him as the new CEO of Maritime Bank.

Giving power to foreign CEOs

The 2012 shareholders’ meeting of MSB has approved the plan to appoint a new general director, a foreign one. MSB has stated that it plans to strengthen the apparatus and improve the corporate governance to the international standards.

Since 2010, MSB has been recruiting a lot of foreign officers for important positions. The personnel renovation aims to fulfill the task that MSB would become the best competitive bank by 2013, and list itself in the top five banks in Vietnam.

With the chartered capital at 8 trillion dong, MSB is targeting high grade clients to provide retail banking services. The bank’s leadership believes that the medium class people with high income would develop rapidly in the years to come, which would bring the most attractive opportunities. Therefore, the rivals of MSB would be not only the leading domestic banks, but also the 100 percent foreign owned banks in Vietnam as well.

In the last two years, nearly 10 Vietnamese banks have changed their brand identity, including SeABank, BaoVietBank, ANZ, OceanBank, VIB, VPBank in an effort to upgrade themselves and improve the banking services. Some banks have decided to give the power to foreign CEOs after finding strategic partners.

Mekong Bank (MDB) which has 3750 billion dong in chartered capital, for example, in early 2011, appointed Lau Boon Tuan, a Singaporean, as the new CEO of the bank. He is from Fullerton Financial belonging to Temasek Group – the strategic partner. Meanwhile, foreign officers have been recruited to work as the assistants to the new CEO.

Great challenges for new CEOs

After one year of operation, MDB has increased its chartered capital from 3 trillion dong to 3750 billion dong, and made a pretax profit of 500 billion dong.

While MDB has been satisfactory with the initial results, and Mr Lau Boon Tuan has been reappointed as the CEO for the new term of 2012-2017, the new CEO of MSB only has two years to implement the goals set up by MSB’s board of directors.

Analysts have commented that this is really a big challenge for the new CEO. The 2010 annual report of the bank showed that the bank had 217,360 clients in the year, while the bank network coverage has not reached throughout the country.

Morris Simon, Techcombank’s CEO, who has been on the post since December 2011, would also have many things to do, because he has been asked to outstrip redoubtable rivals to become the leading bank.

Analysts believe that domestic banks now tend to look for foreign managers, because they strive to a more transparent operation, and because they understand well that only the renovation would help them survive and develop.

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