Fri, Feb 25, 2011 - Page 12 News List

BNP Paribas targets asset management, insurance

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

French banking group BNP Paribas aims to tap into the nation’s burgeoning asset management market in the first half, while consolidating its insurance business, the firm’s Taipei boss said yesterday.

BNP Paribas TCB Asset Management Co (合庫巴黎證券投資信託), the second joint venture with state-run Taiwan Cooperative Bank (TCB, 合作金庫銀行) following the creation of BNP Paribas Assurance TCB Life Insurance Co (合作金庫人壽), is scheduled to start operations in the first half of the year, pending the regulator’s approval, said Olivier Rousselet, the firm’s country manager.

“We will start to develop business on the asset management side in Taiwan, while consolidating progress on the insurance side,” Rousselet told reporters. “That is our priority and nothing else is on the horizon.”

The group first had a presence in Taiwan in 1980, focusing on corporate and investment banking. It owns a 49 percent stake in both joint ventures with TCB and has a workforce of 600, including at the local branch of its insurance arm, Cardif Assurance Vie.

The Financial Supervisory Commission approved the money manager’s establishment last month, TCB chairman Liu Teng-cheng (劉燈城) said by telephone. The firm still needs a business license to start operations.

Its first mutual fund, which aims to raise more than NT$5 billion (US$168 million), will track local shares, Liu said.

TCB named former vice president Thomas Ho (何坤堂) as chairman of the new fund house, while BNP Paribas has appointed its chief executive, Frederic Thomas.

BNP Paribas is the only foreign bank to have joint ventures with a local bank, reflecting its strong commitment to Taiwan, and the cooperation has fared well, Rousselet said.

Last year, first-year premiums totaled NT$40.5 billion at the joint venture and NT$40.1 billion at Cardif Taiwan, translating into market shares of 3.48 percent and 3.45 percent respectively, Rousselet said.

The figures earned the companies sixth and seventh places in terms of ranking.

“It is not easy to conduct insurance business in Taiwan, but we had underestimated the growth potential,” he said, noting that the figures for the joint venture spanned only nine months after it opened in April.

BNP Paribas also aims to strengthen its brokerage and wealth management businesses in Taiwan, Rousselet said.

Currently, its securities operations rank 11th among its 15 overseas peers in terms of market share.

“We intend to boost the ranking to top five in the next two or three years,” he said.

BNP Paribas limits its brokerage business to foreign institutional clients.

The group also plans to hire more relationship managers this year, enlarging its staff from 30 to 50, in a bid to vie for a larger share of the local wealth management market, Rousselet said.

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