Wed, Mar 16, 2005 - Page 10 News List

US bank to set up representative office

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

United Commercial Bank (UBC), the largest bank serving ethnic Chinese in the US, and headquartered in San Francisco, California, has decided to set up a representative office in Taipei, in light of growing demand for financial services in the greater China region.

"Many of our customers manufacture products in China with the US as the export destination and Taiwan or Hong Kong as the management hub," Chang Ming-tsao (張明朝), chief representative of the bank's Taipei office, said at a press conference yesterday.

"We have seen rising demand for financial services in the greater China region, along with increasingly busy multilateral trade and financial exchanges among the US, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China," Chang said, citing annual bilateral trade between Taiwan and the US of over US$40 billion for the last three years.

UBC, founded in 1974, has total assets of US$6.32 billion and 49 branches in the US and Hong Kong. Over 90 percent of its customers are overseas Chinese, with Taiwanese making up 40 percent of its clients.

The bank set up a representative office in Shenzhen, China earlier this month.

The bank mainly targets small and medium corporate customers across the four locations, according to UBC's chairman Thomas Wu (胡少傑).

Acquiring local banks could be an option for the bank to expand but is not likely at this point, Wu said, since it does not aim to compete with local banks in the retailing banking market but to facilitate the trade flow.

The bank said it hopes to establish a branch in Taiwan in two or three years, after fulfilling either of two requirements: being ranked among the world's top 500 banks or having annual financial service transactions of over US$1 billion with Taiwanese customers for more than three years in a row.

UBC is currently ranked 608th worldwide and has over US$100 million worth of transactions with its Taiwanese customers, Chang said.

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