Fri, May 30, 2014 - Page 14 News List

First Financial seeks to boost fee income growth

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

State-run First Financial Holding Co (第一金控) aims to increase its fee income this year by a double-digit percentage from last year, backed by its wealth management and bancassurance businesses.

Fee income totaled NT$1.41 billion (US$46.8 million) in the first three months of the year, up 17.3 percent from NT$1.2 billion during the same period last year, thanks to recovering demand for mutual funds and other wealth management products, First Financial investor relations chief Annie Lee (李淑玲) said.

“We remain on track to achieve 15 percent growth in fee income based on the first-quarter showing,” Lee told an online investors’ conference.

The bank-focused conglomerate posted a net income of NT$3.66 billion in the first quarter, rising 23.1 percent from NT$2.97 billion a year ago, company data showed.

That translates into earnings per share of NT$0.42.

The group is to distribute a cash dividend of NT$0.50 per share and a stock dividend of 7 percent, based on a profit of NT$10.89 billion last year, if the proposal is approved at the annual shareholders’ meeting on June 20.

Meanwhile, First Commercial Bank’s (第一銀行) plans to set up rural banks in China’s Henan Province have been stalled due to uncertainty over legislative approval of the cross-strait service trade agreement signed in June last year.

“We hope the financial sector can somehow be separated from the trade pact so our preparations [for bank expansion] will not be in vain,” First Bank executive vice president Lin Hann-chyi (林漢奇) said.

Despite the drawbacks, the conglomerate opened its third capital leasing company in Xiamen, China, last month, as it seeks to deepen its presence in that country and boost overseas income contributions, Lin said.

Its offshore and overseas banking units generated 47.3 percent of overall profit in the first quarter, from 28.8 percent three months earlier, company data showed.

First Financial shares closed up 0.27 percent to NT$18.50 in Taipei trading yesterday, bucking the TAIEX’s 0.14 percent drop, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed.

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