Thu, Jul 26, 2007 - Page 12 News List

No imminent liquidity problem, Sunny Bank says

'RUMORS HURT' Despite higher-than-average withdrawals, operations were normal at the bank, but the lender readied cash in case clients wanted to take their money out

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite a minor deposit loss yesterday, Sunny Bank (陽信商銀) said it faced no imminent liquidity risk, after prosecutors requested on Tuesday that the lender's chairman, his spouse and some executives suspected of embezzlement be detained.

A court ordered yesterday evening that chairman Chen Shen-hung (陳勝宏) and his wife, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsueh Ling (薛凌), be released on bail of NT$10 million (US$305 million) each.

"Rumors hurt," Sunny Bank spokesman Kenny Lu (呂沛霖) said in a telephone interview yesterday. "We saw withdrawals of between NT$2 billion to NT$3 billion yesterday alone, compared with an average of NT$1 billion per day."

Aside from the large withdrawals, operations at the bank were normal yesterday, with no liquidity risk. the bank prepared as much as NT$30 billion in cash to cover further withdrawals, Lu said.

Chen and Hsueh are suspected of embezzling NT$600 million.

Sunny Bank denied the accusations, saying that Chen and his wife did not have any outstanding debts and had paid off all their loans.

Outstanding lending to the other board directors and management totals NT$3.1 billion, with full pledges, Lu said.

In response, the Financial Supervisory Commission said it would launch a probe if necessary and impose punitive measures if irregularities were found.

"We are closely monitoring any negative effect and loss of savings," commission spokesperson Susan Chang (張秀蓮) said by telephone. "The bank is financially sound and we hope the depositors will not get jittery."

As of last month, Sunny Bank had recorded profits of NT$389 billion with a bad loan ratio of 2.67 percent and a coverage ratio of 43.4 percent.

The bank's capital adequacy ratio -- used to determine the capital sufficiency of a bank -- was 8.76 percent at the end of last year, official data showed.

The crisis was not expected to harm the lender's plan to attract a foreign investor by the end of this year, which it hopes will help improve its know-how in wealth management and overseas expansion.

"We are in talks with more than three overseas banks for the sale of a 30 percent stake," Lu said.

The bank, which operates 96 branches across the nation, is not considering a full sale at the moment, he said.

Morgan Stanley advises the lender for the share sale.

Lu said the Sunny Bank hopes to make its debut in the local stock exchange next year after it postponed an initial public offering plan by the end of this year due to weakened profitability amid the industry-wide consumer credit abuse problem.

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