Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Financial regulator may split Chinese Bank again

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The financial regulator said yesterday that it might divide up The Chinese Bank (中華銀行) again to exclude potentially questionable loans that have worried bidders, after the troubled lender failed to attract any companies interested in its franchise network and good assets.

"We are not ruling out going through the bank's assets again and cutting off hidden loans or debts, if there are any, before starting the next round of auction," Susan Chang (張秀蓮), a Financial Supervisory Commission spokeswoman, told a press conference yesterday.

As much as NT$9 billion (US$274 million) in questionable loans may not been isolated, she said, citing prosecutors' findings in the ongoing investigation of an embezzlement scandal at parent company Rebar Asia Pacific Group (力霸亞太集團).

The renewed auction should take place after Oct. 2, when the government is expected to complete the sale of another troubled bank, China United Trust and Investment Corp (中聯信託), she said.

State-run Central Deposit Insurance Corp (CDIC, 中央存保), which took over The Chinese Bank in January, separated the lender into two parts for sale: the company's good assets, including 36 bank branches nationwide, deposits and active outstanding loans; and its non-performing loans.

CDIC yesterday successfully auctioned off three parcels of the bad loan assets to two buyers, including Malaysian company FC Capital Management Co.

An auction of the bank's good assets was scrapped as no companies sent applications to bid, even after four financial institutions carried out due diligence of the bank.

"Interested buyers are concerned about the risk and the possibility of questionable hidden lending in its NT$98 billion in active outstanding loans," Chang said.

Foreign banks that wanted to bid for The Chinese Bank were worried about the creditworthiness of some of the bank's exiting borrowers, she said.

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