Fri, Jun 03, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Citibank looks to southern Taiwan in expansion plan

GOING SOUTH The lender said it wants to help corporate customers in `traditional industries,' but is bound to face stiff competition from rivals

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Citibank Taiwan is planning to offer more services to corporate customers in central and southern Taiwan, as well as double revenues in commercial banking by 2009, a senior executive said yesterday.

As a growing number of Taiwanese businesspeople are moving operations to China and other Asian nations, the bank will also offer customers with more cross-border products and services, Simon Chung (鍾國強), director and general manager of Citibank's commercial banking group, said at a press conference yesterday.

The bank will focus on attracting potential customers from traditional industries, including shoemaking, textile, furniture, auto parts, bicycle and metalware sectors, given its 15-years of experience with small and medium-sized businesses, he said.

"Manufacturers in traditional industries account for a high proportion in our group's business, and we'll strengthen our market presence outside the north to raise the number of customers and revenues," said Chung, who took up the general manager post in February.

Before his promotion, Chung served as chief of financial institutions and cash management sales at Citibank Hong Kong.

The expansion into central and southern Taiwan means that Citibank will have to break into a market already dominated by rival Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp (HSBC, 匯豐銀行), and local banking institutions such as Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中國信託) and the International Commercial Bank of China (ICBC, 中國國際商銀).

Chung shrugged off concerns that Citibank is a latecomer in those areas.

"Our branches in Taichung and Tainan have been established for 10 years. It's just a question of whether we invest enough resources to develop the market," he said.

With branches in more than 100 nations, Citibank expects to use its offshore banking units and its worldwide network to offer a "one-bank solution" to Taiwanese businesses which are expanding operations in Asia and even the West.

Chung said that some businesses based in China have been relocated to Vietnam as China's wages, electricity demands and the appreciation of Chinese yuan are driving up their operating costs.

Among them, two large-scale furniture factories set up by Taiwanese businesses have been moved to Vietnam after the US announced slapped a 198 percent tariff on China's furniture as part of its anti-dumping efforts, Chung noted.

In related developments, HSBC said it will use its financial platform to facilitate the operations of Taiwanese businesses and financial institutions in greater China and international markets.

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