After acquiring a 5 percent stake in SinoPac Financial Holdings Co (建華金控), International Bank of Taipei (IBT, 台北商銀) chairman Ho Show-chung (何壽川) is expected to take up a seat on SinoPac's board in mid-May.
"I've asked Ho to take part in the board since he is now the third-largest shareholder," SinoPac Financial chairman Richard Hong (洪敏弘) told reporters yesterday while discussing his company's sponsorship of the National Culture and Arts Foundation's performance-art productions.
The idea of Ho getting a seat on SinoPac's board fueled further media speculation about a possible merger between SinoPac and IBT.
But Hong, whose 9 percent stake in SinoPac makes him its biggest shareholder, downplayed such speculation, saying it's too early to talk about such a move.
According to Hong, Ho expressed no interest in taking part in SinoPac's management during a meeting last October, saying that his 5 percent stake was simply an investment.
He added that his friendship with Ho spans more than two generations and Ho was one of the original shareholders of the National Securities Corp (建弘 證券), which was later merged with SinoPac Securities Corp (建華證券) -- a securities unit under the SinoPac Financial.
But Ho, who is also chairman of the Yuen Foong Yu Group (永豐餘集團), vowed to turn IBT into a financial holding company early last year by locating partners through mergers and acquisitions, according to media reports. That has not happened yet.
The Yuen Foong Yu Group holds a controlling 35 percent stake in IBT.
When SinoPac's board is reshuffled in May, Hong said that he will negotiate with Ho and Ruentex Corp chairman Yin Yen-liang (尹衍樑), the second-largest shareholder with an 8 percent stake, to decide appointments to the 11-member board.
Although SinoPac realized only 80 percent of its profit goal for last year, Hong vowed to see another 20 percent growth this year. He attributed the company's failure to make its NT$5.78 billion target to the economic slowdown and to the decline in the local stock market during the second half of the year.
"We were too aggressive last year and predicted a profit goal that was too high. This year, we'll be more prudent," he said.