RETAIL BANKING | Jason Oliver, Thailand

Thai gov't puts Siam City on the block

And the government considers waiving 49 percent rule to allow foreign banks to take a controlling stake.Minister of finance Korn Chatikavanij said limits on foreign shareholdings may be set aside for "world-class institutions which can enhance the quality of competition in the local market place," in a report by the Financial Times.The Financial Institutions Development Fund holds a 47.6 percent stake in Siam City Bank which is facing potential sale along with a 30.6 percent stake in ACL Bank held by the finance ministry. "We always said we would consider getting rid of these stakes if it would help strengthen the overall banking sector through bringing in new entrants to the banking sector," said Mr Korn. The said stakes were acquired by the government following the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

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