First Commercial Bank (第一銀行), the flagship banking arm of First Financial Holding Co (第一金控), said yesterday that it had reopened its representative office in Yangon, Myanmar, making it the first Taiwanese bank to gain a foothold in the Southeast Asian country.
First Bank initially set up the representative office in 1998, but closed it in 2001 amid the difficult international political and financial climate.
However, with the country gearing up economically, Myanmar has shown great potential for growth, First Bank officials said.
In addition, the Southeast Asian country has become a new destination for Taiwanese investors to relocate funds, the bank said, adding that changes in Myanmar’s investment environment prompted the bank to return to the Myanmar market.
The bank secured approval from the Financial Supervisory Commission in the middle of last year and obtained permission from Myanmar’s financial authorities earlier this year to reopen the office.
First Bank officials said that as global economic attention shifts from the West to the Asia-Pacific region, the bank has refocused its business on China and Southeast Asia, and the office in Yangon is expected to extend the bank’s reach in the region.
First Bank is waiting for approval from China’s financial authorities to open a branch in Chengdu in Sichuan Province, as well as other outlets in rural Henan Province.
The bank is also looking for acquisition opportunities in Indonesia, Thailand and Laos.
Last year, First Financial posted NT$10.17 billion (US$343 million) in net profit, or NT$1.25 in earnings per share, up from NT$7.6 billion in net profit or NT$1.01 per share recorded in 2011.