Money Daily Brief: US bailout beneficiaries expand in Asia

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
A man walks into the Morgan Stanley building in New York in April. Investa, an Australia-based subsidiary of the company, will hold the first real estate IPO in two years.
Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/File
Joining Standard Chartered and other Western banks, Citibank on Tuesday became the first US bank to open a retail branch in Vietnam.

•Australian real estate: Morgan Stanley property group Investa, based in Sydney, is looking to raise $680 million in an initial public offering that includes several office towers. It could be the first Australian real estate IPO since December 2007. The bank is one of a handful of firms that said this summer it would begin paying back US bailout cash.

•Banking on Vietnam: Citibank became the first US lender to open a retail branch in Vietnam. Its Ho Chi Minh City location offers deposit and remittance services to individuals and its Citigold wealth management product, requiring a minimum balance of $50,000, says the Financial Times. Citi has continued to expand services in Asia since getting bailed out.

•AIG cashout: American International Group has sold its Taiwan unit for $2.15 billion, a critical step in raising cash to pay off its bailout. AIG is now looking to shed Hong Kong-based AIA and American Life Insurance Co, which could rake in an added $7 billion.

•German confidence dips: A closely watched index fell slightly in October, suggesting Europe's largest economy will recover only gradually. Economists had expected an increase.

•In my backyard: North Korea's missile tests had little effect on markets in Asia. Seoul shares still shed nearly 1 percent, lacking earnings momentum, but the currency gained ground. China said the missiles, fired off its east coast on Monday, won't affect a recent thaw in diplomatic relations, while Seoul stressed that the North had again breached United Nations resolutions.

-- Ben Hancock is a Monitor contributor based in Seoul. For a look at Michigan's efforts to become the world's auto-battery manufacturer, see Can Detroit go green?

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