HANOI - BankAmerica Corp. has opened a branch in Hanoi, becoming the second U.S. bank to have a a full-fledged business office in the Vietnamese capital.

BankAmerica said the new branch will be managed by Luu Le, a vice president who heads the bank's Indochina representative office.

The new branch will provide a wide range of wholesale banking products and serve as a liaison to BankAmerica customers interested in doing business with Vietnam.

The San Francisco-based bank has been steadily building relations with Vietnam. It has opened a representative office in Ho Chi Minh City, set up a family remittance program for Americans of Vietnamese origin, and become the first U.S. bank to make credit available to the country by participating in a $100 million syndicated loan.

Kai Nargolwala, head of BankAmerica's wholesale banking activities in Asia, said the bank hoped to establish itself as a "major player" in Vietnam and convert its representative office in Ho Chi Minh City into a branch.

In January, Citicorp became the first U.S. bank to open a branch in Hanoi.

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