Sat, Nov 04, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Bank looking for more targets

ACQUISITIONS Now busy with integrating Hsinchu International Bank's operations, Standard Chartered said it does not rule out the possibility of buying other local banks

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Standard Chartered Bank said yesterday that it would continue to look for acquisition opportunities in Taiwan after completing its buyout of Hsinchu International Bank (新竹國際商銀) on Tuesday.

"We never rule out any possibilities [for more takeovers] in Taiwan," Standard Chartered Group Executive Director Kai Nargolwala said on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday.

"Our priority now is to complete the integration [with Hsinchu International] work," Nargolwala said, declining to comment on specifics of the British bank's future merger and acquisition plans.

Standard Chartered announced yesterday its successful takeover of Hsinchu International after acquiring a 95.4 percent stake in the local bank through a tender offer that concluded on Oct 31. This deal represents the nation's first foreign takeover of a local lender.

"It is a strong match," Nargolwala said, noting the combination of Hsinchu International's branch network and strong customer base in northern Taiwan and Standard Chartered's global network and strong position in Northeast Asia, the Middle East and South Africa.

The combined entity will become the first Taiwanese bank that could help local firms' operations overseas through its global infrastructure, he said.

Standard Chartered's 20 outlets in China would be at the disposal of China-based Taiwanese companies, he said.

Hsinchu International has 2.4 million consumer deposit accounts and over 115,000 corporate accounts at its 83 branches across the nation.

Standard Chartered's future focus will be in three major business areas -- wealth management, banking services to small and medium sized enterprises and trade and investment flows.

Hsinchu International will become the Taiwanese subsidiary of the British banking group and the integration work is expected to completed by the end of next year.

Hsinchu International could be delisted from the local bourse by February, considering that preparation work would take three to four months, according to Standard Chartered.

There would be no management reshuffle, as the bank's Mandarin-speaking management is helpful to Standard Chartered's expansion in China, Nargolwala said.

Standard Chartered will keep a single, unified brand in Taiwan but would not decide upon the name of the combined entity until it completes a customer survey a few months from now, he said.

The British bank said there would be no redundancies, as "the opportunity is about growth, not cost cutting," the executive added.

Standard Chartered is expected to gain full control of Hsinchu International's 21-member board in the local bank's provisional shareholder meeting scheduled for Dec. 13.

Hsinchu International's current chairman Wu Chih-wei (吳志偉) would join Standard Chartered's senior management team and lead the British bank's business in Taiwan by chairing the integrated entity in the future, Nargolwala said.

Since the beginning of this year, Taiwan has attracted NT$90 billion (US$2.7 billion) of investment in the local financial sector through strategic alliances with six foreign investors, including Standard Chartered, General Electric Co of the US and Shinsei Bank of Japan, as the government has pushed for consolidation of the fragmented banking sector, according to the Financial Supervisory Commission.

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