News Column

BBL revives Phnom Penh bank branch

September 2, 2014

By Somruedi Banchongduang, Bangkok Post, Thailand

Sept. 02--Bangkok Bank (BBL) plans to resume its banking operations in Cambodia this year to capitalise on the growth potential of the frontier market.

Thailand's largest bank by assets has already won approval to reopen its Phnom Penh branch, said executive vice-president Chairit Anuchitworawong.

This will give BBL a network in nine of the 10 Asean countries, with the exception Brunei.

Mr Chairit said the bank was studying whether to open a sub-branch in the Shanghai free trade zone to capture business opportunities there.

A sub-branch there would fall under the oversight of Bangkok Bank China (BBC), like its existing five branches in China, in Shanghai, Beijing, Xiamen, Shenzhen and Chongqing.

With China's economic slowdown and shadow banking problem, BBC has become more prudent about its business operations in recent years in order to maintain its asset quality. But as the world's second-largest economy revives, the bank expects to loosen the reins.

BBL has 28 branches and representatives offices in 13 countries and territories including Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, the US and Britain.

International banking represents 17% of the 1.61-trillion-baht loan portfolio.

BBL has been cautious about expansion in Vietnam due to foreign exchange volatility. It tightened loan approvals and provides financial support only to existing qualified customers.

As the loan portfolio of its two Vietnamese branches in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi has declined, asset quality remains healthy.

The bank has three branches in Indonesia, in Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan, which have posted strong growth in line with the local economy.

"Indonesia has been the bank's third-largest market in term of loans outstanding, outpacing the BBC," Mr Chairit said, adding that Hong Kong and Singapore remained the top two in that category.

BBL shares closed yesterday on the SET at 210 baht, up five baht, in heavy trade worth 1.26 billion baht.


(c)2014 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)

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Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)

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