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Myanmar Citizens Bank has just listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange. Mizzima’s Aung Thura conducted an interview to discuss the details.

According to our observations, there are about 1,600 shareholders in the Myanmar Citizens Bank. Its capital is about Kyat 52 billion. When the bank is listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange, will the Kyat 52 billion be “market capitalization”?

Not all 52 billion. Currently, when the share amount is increased …, we check whether they have paid taxes or not. But 37 billion is “completely clear”.

The Ministry of Commerce has backed the bank.

At the beginning, it was true. But we have changed policy since 2012. The Ministry of Commerce cannot increase its share as much as it wants. The Ministry needs to submit the budget. Only if the country approves the budget, the Ministry will be able to do it. To improve, we need more capital. So the bank has attracted citizens to increase the capital. Presently, the amount of Ministry of Commerce's share is 5.12 billion [out of the 52 billion Kyat]. The remaining amount is the citizens' shares. The percentage [the Ministry's share] is about 9.8.

How much transparency has there been in privatizing the bank?

As soon as we planned to list the bank on the Yangon Stock Exchange, we had to plan to change the previous principals. In the past the Ministry of Commerce could appoint five directors in the bank. There are a total of 15 directors. Another 10 directors were selected by the public. Moreover, the chairperson and the MD (managing director) were appointed by the Ministry of Commerce. At that time, I became the MD of the bank. In this year when we planned to list the bank on the Yangon Stock Exchange, the Ministry could not appoint as they wish. The top officials must be selected [by the shareholders.]

I have learnt that among the main 12 directors of the Myanmar Citizens Bank, there is a permanent secretary from the Ministry of Commerce, and there are officials of Myanmar's top company Capital Diamond Star. In term of capital and sustainability, how much can you offer a guarantee when the bank is listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange?

It is true that we were backed the Ministry of Commerce in the past. But now, the Ministry supports the bank as just a shareholder. The bank does not entirely depend on the Ministry. As you said, the big companies such as Capital Diamond and Good Brother have been involved, and it makes the bank stronger. Moreover, there are small shareholders too. If you put these facts together, you will see that the bank does not entirely depend on the Ministry of Commerce.

How much has the share amount of the Ministry of Commerce increased?

In 2012, when I started working here, it [share amount of the Ministry] was [Kyat] 2.2 billion. Now it is [approximately] 5.2 billion. So the amount has been increased by 3 billion.

You said the Ministry's investment increased by three billion. So the Ministry will continue to hold a share in the Yangon Stock Exchange.

Of course, it will exist to some extent. But the share of the Ministry of Commerce is the share of the government. So if the Ministry wants to sell its shares, it will need to submit a proposal to the Cabinet. Only if the country approves the proposal, will the [Ministry's] shares can be traded.

Myanmar Citizens Bank generate profits from money deposited by the people. So, after the Myanmar Citizens Bank is listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange, how will the bank handle share trading?

We do not control share trading. It depends on the shareholders' wish. If a shareholder can earn profits, he will sell his shares. And if is good to invest, the buyers will buy the shares. We do not control this. But I would like to say about the distribution of profits.

We distributed all profits to shareholders until last year. And we did not add the profits into the capital. So our bank did not improve too much. Now there are just 21 branches of the bank. But we plan to launch 50 more branches within five years.

Similarly, to enhance human resources, we will hire foreign experts. And regarding the IT, we used just ordinary software developed in Myanmar. But in the coming year, we will do as other big banks do. … We will also invest in those fields, so only some part of the profits will be distributed to shareholders. But some part of profit will be invested in the business.

Which will be the focus? On human resources? Or on the business as a whole?

Since 2012, we have been focusing on our businesses. And we raised the capital. So, we could set up bank branches.

And we want to penetrate to the international level, so human resources is very important. So, the first priority is that we will hire experts starting from this year. We will enhance the capacity of our bank staff, including me.

The second fact is that our IT system must not be out of date. If it is out ofdate, our processes will be “slow”, as you know. If so, customers may quit. We will try to avoid it.

Myanmar Citizens Bank is the first bank listed on Yangon Stock Exchange. Is there anything to worry about listing a bank on the exchange?  

In my opinion, there is nothing to worry about.

Why?

Because if you analyze our profile [the bank's profile], you will know. It has never suffered financial loss. It has progressed. If you observe the income of the bank, it has grown higher every year. We may not earn huge profits. But there is no chance to suffer financial loss.

So investors should know about it. … We have annual reports. They are simple. The reports include detailed information that says how much tax we have paid on which year; how much we earned; how much total deposit was; how much profit we distributed [to shareholders]. By reading those reports, you will know whether you should invest your money in it or not. So, I do not worry.

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