HANOI (Reuters) - Citibank NA, a unit of Citigroup Inc (C.N), said it will get the go-ahead soon from Vietnam's central bank to set up a subsidiary in the country, which would make it the seventh wholly foreign-owned lender to operate in Vietnam.
The U.S. lender said the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) governor would grant it a letter of acceptance, in principle, in Washington on Wednesday, witnessed by Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, who is on a landmark visit to the United States.
The bank added that it will request the required approvals from regulators in the United States to create the subsidiary.
Citibank currently has two branches in the Southeast Asian nation. By setting up a fully owned bank in Vietnam, the company could help strengthen Vietnam's banking sector and support local and foreign clients, Citi Vietnam's country officer, Natasha Ansell, said in a statement.
Fully foreign-owned banks in Vietnam currently include HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ.AX), South Korea's Shinhan Bank <055550.KS> and Malaysia's Hong Leong Bank Bhd (HLBB.KL).
In March, the SBV also allowed Malaysia's Public Bank Bhd (PUBM.KL) to turn its Vietnam-based venture with local lender BIDV (BID.HM) into a fully foreign-owned bank.
(Reporting by Mai Nguyen. Additional reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Martin Petty, Pravin Char and Peter Galloway)