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.
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,”