HSBC yesterday opened a new branch in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Lujhou District (蘆洲), its 46th in Taiwan, as the British lender continued to deepen its local presence as part of its goal of becoming a leading player in the Greater China region, a company executive said.
The new branch, the eighth in New Taipei City, marked the end of the firm’s five-year integration of The Chinese Bank (中華銀行) after HSBC won a government auction in December 2007 to take over the troubled lender with its 39 branches, in return for a government subsidy of NT$47.49 billion (US$1.58 billion).
“The addition of a new branch reflects HSBC’s commitment to Taiwan, which is a priority consumer banking and wealth-management market among the group’s global deployments,” the firm’s chief Asia-Pacific executive Peter Wong (王冬勝) said.
Taiwan’s effort to develop into an offshore yuan trading hub will allow HSBC to maintain its leadership position as a yuan specialist, Wong said.
He said the bank welcomed a recent cross-strait financial agreement that would allow banks in Taiwan and China easier access to expand in bilateral markets.
However, he dismissed concerns over HSBC losing its competitive edge to Taiwanese rivals in China, saying the bank has been serving the Chinese market for a long time.
Under the new agreement reached earlier this month, China promised to grant Taiwanese lenders favorable terms when they seek to expand in designated districts, but said it would need more time to define the actual terms of the deal.
HSBC Taiwan’s president and chief executive officer John Li (李鐘培) said the bank plans to offer yuan-based investment products in the second half of the year.
“Objective figures will show how HSBC [Taiwan] fares in terms of yuan deposits and operations,” Li said.
Separately, Moody’s Investors Service yesterday said it viewed the relaxed cross-strait investment rules as “credit positive” for Taiwanese banks and said it would benefit the whole industry in the long term.
The agency said the relaxing of restrictions would allow local banks to tap the Chinese market on a broader basis with improved regulatory support, leading to diversification and improved earnings.
“This is important given the very intense competition and thin interest margins apparent in Taiwan. However, these benefits will materialize only gradually as the bulk of their core businesses is still on the island,” Moody’s said in a report.