* VietinBank to keep bad debt below 2 pct in 2013
* Vietnam’s credit growth set at 12 percent for 2013
* Agribank lending to quicken to more than 10 pct (Adds details)
HANOI, Jan 10 (Reuters) - VietinBank, Vietnam’s second-biggest partly private bank by assets, has set a lending growth target of 20 percent this year, after loans rose an estimated 13 to 15 percent in 2012, a state-run newspaper reported on Thursday.
The Hanoi-based lender, 20 percent owned by Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, plans to keep bad debts below 2 percent of loans this year, the People’s Army newspaper quoted VietinBank Chairman Pham Huy Hung as saying.
VietinBank’s loans this year would reach 528 trillion dong ($25.4 billion), based on the lender’s estimated credit in 2012 of 440 trillion dong.
Vietnamese banks have been struggling with bad debt largely from state-owned firms and a frozen real estate market, while the slowing economy last year hit the businesses sector.
Last year, VietinBank kept its bad debt ratio below 1.5 percent of loans, Hung said at a meeting on Wednesday. The ratio for the entire banking sector rose to 8.82 percent of total loans in September from 8.6 percent in March.
VietinBank’s 2013 credit growth target is well above the 12 percent set by the State Bank of Vietnam for the entire banking system this year.
VietinBank aimed to boost its total assets by 15 percent this year, doubling the growth recorded in 2012, the newspaper reported.
Bank officials were not immediately available for comment.
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is a core banking unit of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’s top lender by assets.
Last month VietinBank sold a 20-percent stake to the Japanese lender for $743 million, in Vietnam’s largest ever merger and acquisition deal, after which Standard & Poor’s upgraded its rating to BB- from B+.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told a banking conference on Wednesday the government’s goals for this year include stabilising the economy, lowering inflation and boosting growth.
The Southeast Asian nation last year posted average inflation of 9.21 percent, half the 18.58 percent of the previous year, while growth slowed to around 5 percent from nearly 6 percent in 2011.
The government is targeting inflation of between 6.0 percent and 6.5 percent this year, below the official target of 8 percent approved by the National Assembly.
Meanwhile state-owned Agribank -- Vietnam’s largest lender by assets -- plans lending growth of more than 10 percent this year, up from 8.2 percent last year, the central bank-run Banking Times reported on Thursday. ($1=20,800 dong) (Reporting by Hanoi Newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Stephen Coates)