The Ministry of Finance will cooperate with the State Bank of Vietnam to encourage commercial banks to get listed to increase transparency and reduce cross-holding in the system.

This resolution was made a year ago and included a roadmap aiming to have all commercial banks listed by 2015. However, the stock market has been sluggish, and bank stocks have been immensely unstable. Therefore, watchdogs have not issued a clear direction for the listing of the banks.

While non-performing loans (NPLs) and cross-holding remain challenges in the system, there are still 26 commercial banks staying out of the stock exchanges.

The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) was the only bank to become listed last year. It was one of the most anticipated listings of the year, offering more than 2.8 billion shares. However, its trading volume remains low at a few hundred thousand units as the state still holds a dominant stake of nearly 96 percent.

In addition to BIDV, there are currently eight listed banks, including Vietcombank (VCB), Vietinbank (CTG), Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) and Eximbank (EIB). Rounding up these banks are Military Bank (MBB), Sacombank (STB), Sai Gon – Ha Noi Bank (SHB) and Nam Viet Bank (NVB).

Nam Viet Bank planned to delist in October 2013 due to high NPLs and operational losses.

Unlisted banks avoided going on the exchanges because they believed that the unfavourable conditions of the stock market would drag down their share prices. Some banks prioritised other goals, such as mergers and acquisitions.

Among the criteria for banks to get listed is the requirement to have an NPL ratio under 3 percent. This will be difficult to achieve by the end of this year.-VNA