Sat, Nov 13, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Bank of Taiwan touts subsidiary plans

REFORMS The state-run bank said it wants to buy a 45 percent stake in securities, trust and insurance subsidiaries in a bid to create a financial holding company

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

As the government continues to push for financial reform, the nation's biggest state-run bank yesterday said that it will invest in three subsidiaries to facilitate its plan of forming a financial holding company.

"Pending legislative approval, we have proposed allocating a budget which will take up a 45 percent stake in each of the three investments, including a securities subsidiary, a trust subsidiary and an insurance agency subsidiary," Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行) president Lee Sheng-yann (李勝彥) said.

Lee said that the bank plans to invest NT$1.8 billion in a securities subsidiary, NT$600 million in a trust subsidiary and NT$5 million in an insurance subsidiary while looking for potential investors to take up the remaining 55 percent stake in each of the three subsidiaries.

The bank does not have an exact timetable for when the three new reinvestments will be implemented, as this depends on the legislature's review of its annual budget, Lee said.

He made the announcement yesterday after presiding over Chunghwa Telecom Co's (中華電信) launch of a new accounting information system.

The Bank of Taiwan and other state-run banks have come under pressure since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said on Oct. 22 that he hoped to see the total number of state-run financial institutions reduced to six by the end of next year. He also said the number of financial holding companies should be halved, from 14 to seven, by the end of 2006.

Lee and Bank of Taiwan chairman Joseph Lyu (呂桔誠) yesterday denied any knowledge of media speculation that the bank will merge with three other state-owned banks to jointly form a financial holding company.

"I have no idea. I learned of the proposal from the media report," Lyu said, adding that the bank's biggest shareholder, the Ministry of Finance, had issued no such instruction.

The Chinese-language Liberty Times (Taipei Times' sister newspaper) reported on Friday that the Bank of Taiwan will team up with the Land Bank of Taiwan (土地銀行), Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫) and Central Trust of China (中信局) to expand into a financial holding company to be entitled Taiwan Financial Holding Co (台灣金控).

The paper reported that the holding company will be formed over three years with a total of 473 branches nationwide and NT$6.5 trillion in total assets.

If the merger is carried out successfully, Taiwan Financial Holding Co will take up a 26.3 percent market share, including a 28.2 percent market share in deposits and a 25.3 percent market share in loans, the paper claimed.

The merger plan seems to have been welcomed by the four banks' labor unions. The four unions are slated to petition the Financial Supervisory Commission next Thursday for an endorsement to the merger proposal.

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