24 April 2012

Maybank is optimistic it will have banking ops in Thailand by 2015

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), the fourth largest banking group in Asean by assets, is optimistic it will have commercial banking operations in Thailand by 2015.

Thailand is the only market in the region, apart from Laos and Myanmar, where it does not have a commercial banking presence. It has applied for a licence in Laos and is keen to start operations in Myanmar once the country opens up the market.

"We're just waiting for the right opportunity and the right target," president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar told reporters here yesterday.

Thailand, the region's second largest economy and expected to grow at about five per cent in the next five years, is an important market for the group to be in if it is to achieve its ambition of becoming a regional financial services leader by 2015.

Abdul Wahid said he was "hopeful" that the group would have a banking presence here by then, either by setting up a branch or by acquiring a rival.

"It very much depends on the opportunities presented," he said, adding that Thai rules currently allow foreign investors to hold only up to 49 per cent in a commercial bank.

He said the group has, over the past few years, looked at a number of proposals involving acquisitions. It is understood that over a year ago, it had its eye on TMB Bank and Bank of Ayudhya.

"At this moment, we're not in active discussion with any Thai bank," he said.

Maybank's closest rival in Malaysia, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, is also eyeing the Thai market. The country's biggest local banks include Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn bank, Siam Commercial Bank and Krungthai Bank.

Maybank, which aims to derive 40 per cent of its pre-tax profit from its international operations by 2015 from about 27 per cent now, is the fourth biggest bank by asset size in the region with US$143 billion (RM429 billion) in assets, after Singapore's DBS, OCBC and UOB banks.

Source: www.btimes.com.my


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