Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Taishin Financial not buying state lender this year

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控), which already controls a 25 percent stake in Chang Hwa Bank (彰化銀行), has no plan to take over the state-controlled lender this year, a Chang Hwa executive said yesterday.

"The takeover will not happen this year, as there is still long way to go to the merger," Chang Hwa president Julius Chen (陳淮舟) said at a media event yesterday.

Business expansion and stabilizing employees' morale are Chang Hwa's priorities, Chen said, adding that neither side had touched on the issue of hiring financial advisers.

Chen, former president of Taishin Financial, became head of Chang Hwa in February and represents the financial group's holdings in the lender.

Taishin Financial currently has control over eight out of Chang Hwa's 15 board seats.

The financial group is required to offload a 2.5 percent stake in Chang Hwa by June 15 after it failed to meet the industry regulator's financial requirements in stepping up its shareholding to 30 percent by above-mentioned deadline.

The bank understood that Taishin Financial would dispose of those shares on the open market, Chang Hwa vice president William Lin (林維樑) said.

Chang Hwa posted pre-tax earnings of NT$14.69 billion (US$443.6 million), or NT$2.87 per share, last year, while Taishin Financial had a net loss of NT$16.1 billion.

Profits this year are expected to stay similar to last year's, Chang Hwa's new spokesman James Shih (施建安) said.

The lender is expected to boost its fee income to 15 percent of total income from 12 percent, or NT$2.97 billion, last year, and hopes to obtain a long-awaited wealth management license in time to formally inaugurate the business in the second half of this year, Chen said.

Meanwhile, First Financial Holding Co (第一金控) said in a Taiwan Stock Exchange filing yesterday that it had not conducted any evaluation of a plan to buy shares in Taiwan Business Bank (台灣企銀), dismissing a report by the Chinese-language Commercial Times.

Citing First Financial chairman Michael Chang (張兆順), the report said that First Financial was considering to buy a 13.4 percent stake in Taiwan Business Bank from Mega Financial Holding Co (兆豐金控), which would make it the second-biggest shareholder in the bank, with a 15.8 percent stake.

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