Fri, Apr 20, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Cathay Financial looking to expand national presence

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控), the nation's largest financial group by assets, is looking to expand its banking franchise network nationwide through acquisition of local banks, a company executive said.

The company is interested in taking over smaller rivals, Gregory Wang (汪國華), chairman of the group's Cathay United Bank (國泰世華銀行), said on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday.

The company is in talks with several targets, he added.

Cathay United hopes to boost its number of outlets to 200 across the nation, Wang said.

He declined to name the targets, saying that any media exposure could hinder the prospect of a deal.

Cathay United operates 140 branches in Taiwan and 20 outlets overseas.

The lender officially took over Taichung-based Lucky Bank (第七商銀) on Jan. 1, making it the private bank with the largest network of branches in the country.

The company is studying the feasibility of bidding for the three troubled banks that were taken over by the government, Wang said.

The decisive factor will be whether the government grants the buyers privilege to relocate branches into the greater Taipei area, which is the nation's most lucrative region, he added.

The government is auctioning off the three banks -- Enterprise Bank of Hualien (花蓮企銀), Taitung Business Bank (台東企銀) and The Chinese Bank (中華銀行). The three lenders combined have a total of 97 branches.

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