Maybank seeks banking licence in Laos while HLB hopes to raise stake in China’s Bank of Chengdu

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) is eyeing a banking license in Laos while Hong Leong Bank Bhd (HLB) is hoping to raise the bank’s stake in the soon-to-be-listed Bank of Chengdu Co Ltd.

Maybank president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said that the bank had applied to open a branch in Laos and this would complete the group’s presence in the Asean region.

He said the bank was still awaiting approval from the relevant authorities and had not set a target when it would commence operations in Laos.

At the same time, Wahid said it was looking to further strengthen its presence in the region, among others, by converting its representative office in Myanmar to a branch office, although he did not specify the timeframe as to when this would take place.

The banking group currently has more than 2,200 branches internationally. In Thailand, for example, he said it intended to pursue retail and commercial banking operations there, where it now had investment banking and equity brokerage businesses.

In the Middle East, he said the bank already had a branch in Bahrain and that it was in the midst of looking at increasing its stake in the Saudi Arabian investment banking associate Anfaal Capital from the current 18%.

In India, Maybank has operations via Maybank KimEng and was also in the midst of re-activating its PT Bank Internasional Indonesia Tbk’s Mumbai branch.

Maybank seeks banking licence in Laos while HLB hopes to raise stake in China’s Bank of Chengdu


Wahid said Maybank was targeting to derive 40% of its earnings from international operations by 2015.

Meanwhile, HLB is looking to raise its stake in its 20%-owned associateBank of Chengdu. However, the government has a 20% limit on foreign banks’ holdings in Chinese retail banks.

Hong Leong group managing director and CEO Yvonne Chia said: “As long as the government today allows only a maximum of 20%, I don’t think we can do much about it. When we have a chance to increase our stake, of course we will.”

Chengdu is currently in the queue to file an initial public offering (IPO) on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s A-share market. “We have submitted applications for the IPO. I’ll wait for the outcome. We can only take 20% of what the law allows,” Chia said.

One of the bank’s key strategies to improve return on assets and return on shareholders’ funds is in its strategy for consumer banking. “In particular, our strategy for consumer banking is to rebalance, remix yield management and at the same time also bring in efficiency through the e-banking channel wherever we can,” Chia said.

On business banking, she said the key opportunity for HLB was to grow global markets to cross sell and capture the competencies that it had in its trade customers, the trade flows and analytics it had in business banking and translate that into solutions for its customers.“With the merger with Eon Bank, we have grown our market share in the segment to about 9%, where previously it was between 2% and 3.5%,” Chia said.

She said HLB aimed to move its Islamic bank from a consumer Islamic bank to a wholesale bank. The contribution there will be from transaction income in Islamic wholesale and investment banking, treasury and wealth management.

“Post the merger, the benefit that we have is the relationship with the Government. We hope to further bring that to the next level,” Chia said.

She also said that as part of its merger plans with Eon Bank, HLB aimed to raise more ringgit funding. “We have raised US dollars funding for our normal working capital and we are in the midst of raising ringgit funding to boost our capital,”


Meezan Bank to provide financing for `Dell' laptop computers

KARACHI: Meezan Bank, Pakistan’s first and largest Islamic bank, has joined hands with M/s. Unique Technologies for financing of `Dell’ brand of laptop computers.

A statement here on Monday said that this will be through Meezan Bank’s Laptop financing product- Laptop Ease.

It said that in this regard an MOU was signed by Arif ul Islam, COO of Meezan Bank and Asif Bukhari, CEO of Unique Technology here at Meezan Bank Head Office.

Shahzad Aslam Khan, Country Head Dell and Naveed Siraj, Country Head Intel was also present on the occasion.

The statement pointed out that Laptop Ease is a Riba Free financing product based on the concept of `Musawamah’ whereby Meezan Bank provides financing for purchase of laptops at easy instalments payable over 3 to 24 months.

After signing of this agreement, Meezan Bank will also provide financing for Dell laptops.

Muhammad Raza, Head of Consumer Banking and Marketing at Meezan Bank said that the Laptop Ease product was launched in April last year.

BankMuscat will create awareness on Islamic banking

MUSCAT: BankMuscat, the leading financial services provider in the Sultanate, is hosting a seminar on Islamic banking tomorrow at Grand Hyatt Muscat.

Sheikh Ibrahim Al Sawafi and Sheikh Azan Al Amri, researchers at Ifta’a office, Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, will address the seminar aimed at raising awareness on customer benefits derived from Islamic banking.

Sulaiman Al Harthy, group DGM (Consumer Banking), said: “BankMuscat strategy is to attract customers through innovative products and services. As always, BankMuscat takes the lead in offering value added services. The bank strives to increase the range of benefits for customers and we are confident that the Islamic banking seminar will shed light on important aspects of Islamic banking from the Sharia perspective.”

As a follow-up measure, the bank will organise a series of presentations on Islamic banking across the Sultanate, highlighting the difference between Islamic banking and conventional banking.

The presentations will familiarise people with the main characteristics of Islamic finance. Experts and scholars will make the presentations and educate the public on the features and benefits of Islamic banking.

Financial expertise

“As the nation’s leading financial services provider, BankMuscat is well positioned to provide Islamic financial expertise to diverse segments and thereby promote the good of society as a whole. BankMuscat is proud to have been associated with all major national initiatives and developments in line with the directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.

The bank has in place a comprehensive strategy to effectively r-espond to the directive of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos on Islamic banking and thereby cater to the financial needs of people in accordance with the guidelines and regulatory framework to be prescribed by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO),” Al Harthy added.

The CBO has initiated steps to incorporate Islamic banking legislation into the banking law and thereby create a legal framework for Islamic banks and Islamic banking branches in line with the best international practices.

Al Harthy said: “Since Islam is the religion of the Sultanate of Oman as stated in the Basic Law, Oman is ideally placed to play a leading role in Islamic finance. Omani commercial codes are completely supportive to Islamic banking structure without any conflict. The commercial code has a very strong Sharia foundation in the form of Article 2, 4 and 5 of Royal Decree 55/1990.”

In the run-up to introduction of Islamic banking, BankMuscat recently organised a series of customised Islamic banking courses for staff. The courses were conducted by experts with considerable international experience in Islamic finance best practices.