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Mizuho Financial Group Inc. is in final talks to buy a stake in Joint-Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam for as much as ¥60 billion, a source said.

Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd., a unit of Japan’s third-biggest bank by market value, is seeking as much as 20 percent of the Hanoi-based lender known as Vietcombank, the source said on condition of anonymity before a deal is struck. The transaction may be completed by next month, the source said.

Foreign banks are investing in Vietnam to tap demand for credit in the Southeast Asian nation even as it struggles to contain inflation nearing 21 percent. Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Ltd. won approval to raise their stakes in Vietnamese banks earlier this month.

Masako Shiono, a spokeswoman for Mizuho, declined comment. Phone calls to Vietcombank Chairman Nguyen Hoa Binh and Chief Executive Officer Nguyen Phuoc Thanh were not immediately answered. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Mizuho is the preferred bidder to take a 15 percent stake for about $500 million.

Mizuho and bigger rivals Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., all based in Tokyo, are expanding in Asia as lending shrinks at home.

Mitsubishi UFJ said last month it plans to strengthen its capital alliance with CIMB Group Holdings Bhd., Malaysia’s second-biggest banking group. Sumitomo Mitsui is the largest shareholder in Vietnam Export-Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank with a 15 percent stake, Bloomberg data show.

Vietcombank, the country’s biggest publicly traded lender by market value, said May 17 it is reviving plans to sell as much as a 20 percent stake to overseas investors by early next year. The state-controlled bank first sold shares to outside investors in 2007 before listing on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange two years later.

Sydney-based Commonwealth Bank got permission from the central bank to increase its holding in Vietnam International Commercial Joint-Stock Bank to the 20 percent limit from 15 percent now, the State Bank of Vietnam said on July 11. UOB will be able to raise its stake in Southern Commercial Joint-Stock Bank to a similar level.

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