Tue, Jan 17, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Chang says he won't sell First Financial

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Michael Chang (張兆順), the newly appointed chairman of the First Financial Holding Co (第一金控), reassured employees yesterday that he will not sell the fifth-largest financial group, and may instead take over rivals in a bid to become one of the nation's top two financial holding firms.

"I was dubbed a `terminator by merger' and some have speculated that I am going to terminate First Financial," Chang said in his inauguration ceremony yesterday. Unlike the banks he used to head, First Financial is in good condition and he is there to revamp the company into the nation's leading financial holding firm, Chang said.

Chang yesterday officially took over the helm of First Financial and its flagship subsidiary First Bank (第一銀行), from acting chairman Chao Yuan-chi (趙元旗). Chao resigned from his presidency over health concerns and will now be a senior adviser to the bank.

Chang made the remarks to relieve market speculation, in light of the fact that the then-ailing Bank of Overseas Chinese (華僑銀行) was taken over by Polaris Financial Group (寶來集團) and Taiwan Business Bank (台灣企銀) became one of Mega Financial Holding Co's (兆豐金控) possible subsidiaries during his short-lived chairmanships at those two banks.

It is likely that First Financial will be able to acquire competitors and become a leading financial player, Chang said.

Increasing the number and efficiency of a bank's overseas operations is also key to becoming a leading player, Chang said. The bank will seek foreign partnerships on innovative products and platforms to strengthen its wealth management business, he said.

First Bank currently has 16 overseas outlets.

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