October 31, 2018 / 2:17 PM / 21 days ago

Vietcombank gains preliminary agreements to open U.S. office

HANOI, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Vietcombank has made a significant step in becoming the first Vietnamese bank to open a representative office in the United States, it said on Wednesday.

The move by Vietnam's biggest bank by market value comes as diplomatic ties between Communist Vietnam and former war enemy United States are on the rise and is part of a push to expand internationally as it aims for a place among the world's top 300 banking and financial groups.

Vietcombank has obtained approval from the U.S. Federal Reserve and an agreement in principle from the New York State Department of Financial Services to open a representative office in New York City, it said on its website.

The State Bank of Vietnam, the country's central bank, owns 77 percent of Vietcombank. Japan's Mizuho Bank is the second biggest investor with a 15 percent stake.

"As Vietnam becomes more attractive to U.S. investors, Vietcombank's representative office ... will be an extended arm for Vietcombank in the United States to support business development in this very potential market," it said, adding that it aims to obtain a licence and open a New York office as soon as possible.

The representative office would liaise with prospective clients and banks in the United States and engage in other non-transactional activities such as analysis of the banking and financial services market.

The United States is now one of Vietnam's top trading partners and is expected by some analysts to benefit from the continuing U.S.-China trade conflict, offering an alternative investment and trade destination. (Reporting by Mai Nguyen Editing by David Goodman)

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