By Robb M. Stewart

MELBOURNE, Australia--Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ.AU) continues to pull back from its investments across Asia with an agreement to sell its retail operations in Vietnam to focus instead on institutional banking in the country.

The business will be sold to a unit of South Korea's Shinhan Financial Group (055550.SE), ANZ said Friday. The financial terms for the deal weren't disclosed, although the Australian bank said it was being offloaded at a premium to book value and wouldn't be material to the bank.

Since taking over from long-serving Chief Executive Mike Smith over a year ago, Shayne Elliott has focused on addressing investors' worries about the lower returns and higher costs of ANZ's Asian businesses at a time when banks are facing up to low economic growth, volatility in financial markets and rising credit costs.

The bank late last year agreed to sell its retail and wealth-management businesses in Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and Indonesia to focus on its larger institutional banking operations in the region. Earlier this month, it kicked off an auction of its Australian wealth business, releasing information on the insurance and other operations to prospective partners.

The business being sold in Vietnam includes eight branches in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, serving 125,000 customers, ANZ said. The operation includes 320 million Australian dollars (US$240.9 million) in lending assets and A$800 million in deposits.

The sale is in line with a strategy to simplify ANZ and improve capital efficiency, allowing the bank to focus its resources on institutional banking, said Farhan Faruqui, ANZ's executive for its international division. He said ANZ would maintain a presence in Vietnam to support corporate clients in the Greater Mekong region.

Subject to regulatory approval, ANZ said it expected to transfer the Vietnam operations to Shinhan Bank Vietnam by the end of the year.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 20, 2017 22:52 ET (02:52 GMT)

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