Vietnam's Incombank to become Vietinbank

(dpa) - Vietnam's Incombank, the country's fourth largest bank, is changing its brand name to Vietinbank effective April 15 to avoid confusion with various foreign banks who use the Incombank name, the company's CEO announced Thursday.

"Vietnam joined the WTO in 2007, and the road map is to open up our financial markets from 2007 to 2011," the bank's CEO, Pham Huy Hung, said at a press conference launching the company's new brand. "There are many Incombanks in China, South Korea, and elsewhere, and we don't want people to think that we are a branch of another bank in a bigger country."

The name change was seen as a critical step to pave the way for the state-owned bank's expected initial public offering later in 2008. Hung said the bank had submitted a proposal for the IPO to Vietnam's prime minister on April 2 and was awaiting approval.

The country's official legal name, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of Vietnam, will remain unchanged.

Hoang Van Tan, deputy director of Vietnam's National Office of Intellectual Property, said more Vietnamese companies would have to change their names as the country integrates into the global economy.

"There can't be two businesses having the same name in one country," Tan said. "To develop into an international organization, it's necessary not to have the same brand with any other business in the world."

Hung said the fact that the company's name contains the word "tin", which means "trust" in Vietnamese, would bolster confidence among clients.

The renaming may also help distance the bank's international image from its bitter 2006 conflict with the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO. After an unauthorized Incombank employee lost over 5 million dollars on speculative currency trades, Vietnamese police jailed four ABN-AMRO employees for executing the trades, and Incombank sued ABN-AMRO to get its money back.

ABN-AMRO said it had done nothing wrong, but paid Incombank 4.5 million dollars in November 2006 to ensure the release of its employees.

Incombank had close to 11 billion dollars in assets as of the end of 2007, with 2007 profits of over 90 million dollars.

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