Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Maybank obtains Laos licence

By Adeline Paul Raj
Published: 2012/10/17

FIRST BRANCH IN NOVEMBER: Group to carry out full scope of ops including retail and commercial banking

MALAYAN Banking Bhd (Maybank) has obtained a banking licence in Laos and plans to open its first branch in the capital city in early November, becoming one of few Malaysian banking groups to venture into the smallest Southeast Asian economy.

The move ties in with its plan to have a presence in all 10 Asean countries by 2015.

"We're making all the final arrangements to open a branch in Vientiane this November," president and chief executve officer Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar told reporters here at the official opening of Maybank's Beijing branch.

Laos, with its population of about 6.3 million people and one of the more rapid-growing economies in the region, has increasingly been on the radar of regional banks looking to expand.
Public Bank Bhd already has several branches in the country, while Swiss-based International Commercial Bank - said to be controlled by Malaysia's former finance minister Tun Daim Zainudin - also has a presence there.

CIMB Group has also applied for a banking licence there.

Laos' economy is expected to grow by 7.9 per cent this year and 7.7 per cent in 2013, according to the Asian Development Bank.

The licence allows Maybank to carry out the full scope of banking operations in the country, including retail and commercial banking.

With its entry there, Thailand and Myanmar remain the only two markets in Asean that Maybank does not have commercial banking operations in.

Abdul Wahid said in Thailand, Maybank's default position is to try to open branches there in 2014 when the sector opens up further.

He did not rule out making acquisitions there, adding, however, that Maybank was "not in a hurry" to be in Thailand.

In Myanmar, it is keen to start operations once the country opens up the market further.

Maybank also wants to boost its operations in the Philippines and Indonesia, Abdul Wahid said, adding that some of the RM3.66 billion it recently raised from a private placement exercise would go towards this.

Maybank has 52 branches in the Philippines but has less than one per cent market share there.

"We believe the Philippines is a country that offers high growth and there is opportunity to grow further there organically," he remarked.

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