DBS Taiwan (星展銀行) saw its pre-tax profits more than double in the first quarter, with the uptrend expected to continue for the rest of the year, backed by its expanding corporate lending and wealth management businesses, the Singaporean lender said yesterday.
The bank reported NT$592 million (US$20.5 million) in pre-tax income during the January-to-March period, soaring 103 percent from NT$292 million a year earlier, fueling optimism for its ambition to become the third-largest foreign bank by 2015, from the fifth-largest at present, Jerry Chen (陳亮丞), general manager and head of DBS Taiwan, told a media briefing to inaugurate the bank’s new headquarters in Xinyi District (信義).
As of the end of March, the bank had a bad loan ratio of 0.76 percent, down from 1.21 percent a year earlier, data from the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) showed, as DBS gained significant headway from the acquisition of Taiwan’s Bowa Bank (寶華銀行) in May 2008.
The Singaporean banking group’s chairman, Peter Seah (佘林發), who flew to Taiwan to host the inauguration, said DBS Taiwan turned profitable a year ahead of schedule, adding that he was confident it could become one of the top three foreign lenders in Taiwan.
“I don’t know which competitor we will overtake later,” Seah told reporters. “It is up to them to decide. DBS is used to competition and is serious about deepening its presence here because Taiwan plays an important role in our Greater China strategy.”
Citibank Taiwan, the local subsidiary of US financial services giant Citigroup, is the biggest foreign lender in terms of net worth, followed by Britain’s Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC.
DBS Bank, the largest in Southeast Asia, already serves major Taiwanese technology firms with businesses across Greater China and aims to extend its customer base to cover their supply chain, Seah said.
“The relocation of the headquarters to Shin Kong Xinyi Financial Center is a show of our commitment,” he said.
The new headquarters occupies three floors measuring 1,755 ping (5,790m2) and accommodates about 350 staff, Seah said.
He said DBS was comfortable with its current 40 branches in Taiwan, but would not reject potential expansion opportunities.
For the rest of the year, the local branch will focus on strengthening its wealth management business, as well as services to small and medium-sized firms, Chen said.
“We intend to expand our customer base, including corporate firms as well as affluent and emerging affluent customers in Asia,” he said.
The Singaporean parent has injected the NT$20 billion capital required to upgrade the branch into a subsidiary in October once the FSC gives the go-ahead, he said, adding that the bank filed the application in March and expects the review to go smoothly.