The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday approved a request by Spain-based Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA) to upgrade its representative office in Taiwan into a branch.
BBVA would then become the 29th foreign lender to establish branch offices in Taiwan, in line with government efforts to develop the nation into a regional financial hub, the financial regulator said in a statement on its Web site.
“The expansion comes as the bank is looking to help Taiwanese companies explore business opportunities in Latin America and Mexico and deepen trade ties,” the statement said.
BBVA, headquartered in Bilbao, Spain, is the second-largest lender in Spain and the seventh-largest in the Western world with a market capitalization of over 61 billion euros (US$88 billion), according to the commission’s statement.
The Spanish banking group submitted its application to upgrade its representative office into a branch to the FSC in June, BBVA’s representative in Taiwan Phillip Li (李志明) said last month.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Department of Investment Services said on July 21 that the Spanish lender is expected to inject new capital of NT$600 million (US$20.77 million) by the end of the year to fund the upgrade once it is granted a branch license by the commission.
BBVA was among 27 foreign companies that signed letters of intent with the ministry last year, promising to pour investment totaling NT$108.25 billion into Taiwan.
The lender’s asset size and quality meet the FSC’s requirements, according to which only the world’s top 500 banking institutions are -allowed to operate in the country, the commission said yesterday.
BBVA has recently focused on overseas expansion and now operates in 40 countries. Like many other Spanish companies, it enjoys a dominant position in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries.
BBVA set up its representative office in Taiwan in 2005 and has been encouraged by warming trade ties with China.
In 2006, BBVA acquired a stake in China CITIC Bank (中國中信銀行).
The Banker, a monthly publication owned by The Financial Times Ltd, places BBVA’s core capital in 28th place and its total assets in 35th place among global peers this year, according to the FSC’s statement.