Wed, Feb 23, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Citibank Taiwan looks to robust earnings growth

STORMING BACK:Citi Taiwan added 50 staffers last year and will hire more this year to tap into business opportunities linked to improved Taiwan and China trade links

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Citibank Taiwan Ltd (台灣花旗) expects to see robust earnings this year on across-the-board growth in core businesses amid economic recovery at home and abroad, top executives said yesterday.

The US-headquartered lender reported a pre-tax income of NT$18 billion (US$609.7 million) last year, rising 12.5 percent from NT$16 billion in 2009, as recovering -confidence boosted consumer and corporate lending.

“We expect total credit card charges to increase 10 percent this year” after they hit a new high last year, ranking second after Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中信銀), Citibank Taiwan chairman Victor Kuan (管國霖) said.

Chinatrust bank is the nation’s largest credit-card issuer and the banking arm of Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控).

Citibank will seek to strengthen cooperation with hotels, airlines and restaurants because Taiwanese are expected to spend more on dinning and travel this year, Kuan said.

Last year, the number of foreign-bound travelers increased 15.6 percent from the previous year, while credit card charges increased 12.7 percent, according to data compiled by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics.

Taiwan’s private consumption is forecast to grow 3.85 percent year-on-year from NT$7.89 trillion last year to NT$8.33 trillion this year, the agency said last week.

Citi Taiwan expects to see stable growth of about 10 percent in mortgage loans, targeting all salaried home buyers this year, Kuan said.

Corporate loans to small and medium-sized firms, which expanded more than 30 percent last year, is expected to grow another 30 percent this year, Kuan said.

Simon Chung (鍾國強), head of commercial banking at Citi Taiwan, expects strong loan demand from companies in the technology and traditional sectors to expand amid stable economic pickup globally.

Chung’s department added 50 staffers last year and plans to hire more this year to tap into business opportunities linked to the warming trade links between Taiwan and China following the inking of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement last year.

“We will soon organize road shows in the US, briefing firms about business opportunities in Taiwan and Greater China,” Chung said. “More than 130 companies expressed interest on the day we announced the event.”

Chung expects this and other campaigns to boost the bank’s market share in corporate lending by 0.5 percent this year, from the current 1 percent.

Aware of increasing volatility in the foreign exchange market, Citi Taiwan recently extended its order-watch service to individual customers who can conduct major foreign currency transactions by telephone and on-site from 9am until 8pm to better hedge against losses, since it allows the desired transaction to be executed when the specified exchange rate is achieved, retail banking director Yunny Lee (李芸) said.

Other lenders provide such a service exclusively to companies and even then offer it only until 3:30pm each trading day, she said.

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