Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Time for bank consolidation: Chen

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Sean Chen (陳冲) said yesterday he would seek to ensure that the local financial market remains healthy and stable while facilitating future consolidation.

Chen said now was a good time for consolidation in the nation’s banking sector, adding that profit-making “former state-owned banks with a sense of social responsibility” would have a better chance of initiating the next round of mergers and acquisitions amid the current financial turmoil.

He did not name banks, but defined “former state-owned banks” as banks that have been privatized, but in which the government continued to exert influence.

Before a cross-strait financial memorandum of understanding between Taiwan and China can be signed, the commission would make every effort to receive most-favored-nation treatment for local banks’ expansion plans into Chinese markets while creating a level playing field for Chinese banks, which are interested in branching into the local market, he said.

Chen said he was confident in domestic banks, adding that before they enter the Chinese market, the banks would have a chance to learn more about their opportunities and client-base there.

FEARS

Chen sought to allay fears about confidentiality, saying that Chinese banks’ access to financial information about Taiwanese at the Joint Credit Information Center would not be abused.

“The regulation is very clear: The center will follow up on any access to financial information by individuals who are not clients at the banks, Chinese or foreign,” Chen said.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has argued that following the opening policy, banks in China could obtain financial information that might help Chinese authorities levy taxes on China-based Taiwanese companies.

If access to personal financial information is abused, national security could also be threatened, the DPP says.

The commission also said yesterday that five or six domestic banks had received complaints from clients who suffered losses from structured note investments. It did not elaborate.

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