Sat, Jan 22, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Union Bank marks 13th anniversary

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a ceremony to mark its 13th anniversary yesterday, Union Bank of Taiwan (聯邦銀行) said the debt-ridden Chung Shing Bank (中興銀行) it acquired last month is expected to turn a profit within a year after new banners are hung in March, top bank officials said.

"We'll have to work hard this year on business integration with the bank we just bought. But we're confident that it will turn a loss into gain, or at least break even, within one year," Huang Chun-chung (黃春鐘), chairman of Union Bank, said at the celebration in Taipei.

Union Bank outbid three other competitors in an auction early last month to acquire the poorly performing Chung Shing Bank for NT$7.108 billion (US$225 million), more than double the base price of NT$3 billion.

The purchase will boost the number of Union Bank branches from the current 40 to 87, the largest number of branches of any private bank, excepting financial holding companies' banking arms.

"In the short term, we hope to integrate information systems, personnel and corporate cultures so that business will run smoothly and profitably," said Lee Shian-chang (李憲章), Union Bank's president.

But the bank declined to elaborate on how the integration will be carried out or whether there will be layoffs.

Jeff Lin (林鴻聯), vice president of the consumer financing department, has previously told reporters that the bank would relocate some branches to the north of the country in the hopes of expanding its market share in the region while maintaining Chung Shing's branches in the south.

Lee said Union Bank will strive to become one of the nation's top three credit card issuers this year from its current fourth place position.

The bank currently has 2.84 million credit cards in circulation.

The bank will also focus on expanding its loan business. It has issued more than NT$10 billion in car loans and expects to be among the top three lenders in the country this year, Lee said.

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