Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved the State-owned Housing Bank of Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta (MHB)'s equitisation plan.

The bank will become a commercial joint-stock company under the plan and will be permitted to issue shares to increase its charter capital.

The State will retain a 3 trillion VND (144 million USD) stake after the equitisation, accounting for 68.1 percent of MHB's charter capital of 4.51 trillion VND (216.7 million USD).

The bank plans to issue shares worth 31.9 percent of its charter capital – 14.34 percent will be auctioned publicly, 2 percent will be offered to the labour union, 0.56 percent to the bank's employees and 15 percent to strategic investors.

Strategic investors will not be permitted to sell their shares for five years.

The central bank will be responsible for deciding MHB's share price at auction and advise the bank on selecting its strategic shareholders.

MHB was established as a State-owned bank in 1997. Since then, its asset value has reached nearly 51.4 trillion VND (2.5 billion USD), 171 times its initial worth.

The move follows the earliers equitisation of Vietcombank (VCB) and Vietinbank (CTG) – which are now listed on the HCM Stock Exchange.

State-owned Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) is also planning to equitise, while the Vietnam Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (Agribank) became a one-member limited liability company, with the State being the sole stake holder./.