Wed, Dec 22, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Shin Kong Financial in merger talks

EXPANSION The firm is actively seeking local and international companies to partner up with in a bid to increase its global presence, Shin Kong's president said

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Shin Kong Financial Holding Co (新光金控), which owns Taiwan's second-largest life insurance company, is in merger talks with both local and overseas investors, company president Frank Cheng (鄭弘志) said.

"We have to become bigger in size, and a merger is a good way to achieve this," Cheng told reporters today at a ceremony to mark the renaming of its banking unit, which is now an nationwide lender. The company is open to all options, he added, refusing to elaborate.

Shin Kong renamed the former United-Credit Commercial Bank (聯信銀行), based in Taichung as Shin Kong Commercial Bank(新光銀行), which it acquired in September via a share swap after the then regional lender almost tripled its capitalization to NT$10 billion (US$310 million).

"The addition of the bank allows Shin Kong Financial to provide a full range of financial services," said bank Chairman Patrick Liang (梁成金) in the briefing.

Liang, a former deputy central bank governor, was hired to reorganize United-Credit's finances.

The bank, which has 28 branches, plans to strengthen its consumer banking business and issue 1 million credit cards next year from 100,000 currently, Liang said.

Shinkong Life Insurance Co (新光人壽), Taiwan's No.2 life insurer, has total available funds of NT$800 billion for investment, said Victor Hsu (許澎), the insurer's chief financial officer.

About 32 percent of the fund is now invested overseas, mostly in fixed-income assets, 23 percent in domestic bonds and treasury bills, 5.5 percent in domestic stocks, 11 percent in local real estate, and 12 percent in loans, he said.

The insurer always keeps its domestic stock investment below 6 percent of its total fund in a bid to control risk, Hsu said.

It plans to increase its overseas investment to 35 percent of the total fund next year, he said.

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