Fri, Nov 26, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Fubon aims to focus on branding

FINANCIAL SERVICES Fubon is not in a hurry to invest across the Strait and instead sees build its brand as an important element of profitability

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

For banking businesses, building up branding strategies is more important than branching into Chinese markets, Daniel Tsai (蔡明忠), vice chairman of Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控), the nation's second-biggest financial services company, said yesterday.

"The competitiveness of financial-service companies hinges on their market value, which can be boosted by strengthening the brand," Tsai told a forum organized by the Industrial Bank of Taiwan's (台灣工銀) Education Foundation.

Tsai said said that in the past 10 years Fubon Financial has succeeded in building up its brand, and it ranks as the best-known mega-bank in Taiwan with an approval rating of 78.2 percent -- followed by Cathay Financial Holding Co's (國泰金控) 73.6 percent and Chinatrust Financial Holding Co's (中信金) 69.5 percent, according to a Fubon survey.

He added that the financial-services company will soon accelerate its internal integration by re-branding all its banking units, including its branches of TaipeiBank (台北銀行) and Hong Kong-based International Bank of Asia (港基銀行), into Fubon Taipei Bank (富邦台北銀行) beginning next year.

Moreover, there is no urgency for Fubon Financial to enter Chinese markets since cross-strait political differences haven't yet been ironed out, Tsai said.

To serve China-based Taiwanese businesses, Fubon Financial is poised to take advantage of the Hong Kong-based lender, which Tsai said should suffice for the time being.

He also said that several banks that have moved into Chinese markets are not money-making.

Despite being ranked as the second biggest mega-bank by value, Fubon Financial will further consolidate through mergers and acquisitions (M&As), which is an inevitable development for the local banking sector to boost competitiveness, Tsai said.

He lauded President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) previous call to cut the number of local financial holding companies by half to seven before 2006, although he said it's not an easy goal.

Tsai, moreover, urged the DPP government to organize open auctions to attract buyers to place bids for the future release of shares of state-run banks so as to accelerate the state-run banks' privatization, as well as the local banking sector's consolidation.

In response, Finance Minister Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday said that open auctions would be a good option for the government to sell off its shares in state-run banks, but that it will be "one of the many options," implemented on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to Fubon's two major development strategies of building up its brand and expansion through M&As, Tsai yesterday also vowed to seek internal organic growth by facilitating one-stop shopping. He also stressed the importance of innovation in launching leading financial products.

Fubon Financial, which operates over 200 banking, securities and insurance branches in Taiwan, had US$36.3 billion in total assets as of last September.

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