TMB Bank Pcl, a Thai lender controlled by ING Groep NV, rose to a four-month high in Bangkok stock trading after Kao Hoon newspaper said Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. may bid for a state-held stake.
TMB Bank’s shares climbed 2.5 percent to 1.67 baht at the noon trading break, set for the highest close since Sept. 21. They earlier climbed 3.7 percent. The stock is the second-best performer today on the SET50 Index, a measure of the 50 largest publicly traded companies. The gauge was little changed.
Thailand, which nationalized more than half of the country’s commercial banks during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, has sold controlling stakes in several lenders to help repay bailout costs. It sold stakes in ACL Bank Pcl to ICBC in 2010 and in BankThai Pcl to Malaysia-based CIMB Group Holdings Bhdd. in 2008. Thanachart Bank Pcl, partly owned by Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia, bought Siam City Bank Pcl from the central bank in 2010.
“Most individual investors are betting on speculation that TMB Bank has attracted interest from a number of overseas banks,” Sasikorn Chareonsuwan, the head of research at Phillip Securities (Thailand) Pcl in Bangkok, said by phone today. “This is relatively risky because the stock’s current valuation has already reached its earnings potential.”
ICBC may compete with Korea Development Bank for the 26.1 stake in TMB now held by the Thai Finance Ministry, Kao Hoon reported, without saying where it got the information.
Wang Zhenning, a Beijing-based press officer at ICBC, declined to comment. Somchai Sujjapongse, spokesman for the finance ministry, didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail message on his mobile phone.
ICBC acquired Bangkok-based ACL Bank Pcl in 2010 for about $612 million, buying shares from the finance ministry and other investors.
About 348 million TMB shares had been traded as of noon in Bangkok, almost three times the daily average volume for the past three months. The shares have gained 5.7 percent this year after slumping 33 percent in 2011.
-- With assistance from Jun Luo in Shanghai. Editors: Matthew Oakley, Darren Boey