Wed, Aug 12, 2015 - Page 14 News List

Mitsubishi UFJ boosting local staff on China trade

CROSS-STRAIT TIES:The company said that it planted to boost its 200-person staff in Taiwan by about 10 percent and increase the loan portfolio of its local unit


Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc is seeking to expand its workforce in Taiwan as it pursues business from companies benefiting from increasing cross-strait trade.

“We need to be geographically close to our customers,” Tetsuo Tani, deputy head of planning for East Asia at Japan’s biggest bank, said in an interview in Tokyo last month.

He aims to boost the headcount in Taiwan by about 10 percent from the current 200 as the bank adds a branch in Kaohsiung.

Mitsubishi UFJ also plans to open an outlet in the Fuzhou, China, amid burgeoning trade fueled by the most cordial relations between Taiwan and China.

The bank is seeking to close the gap with Mizuho Financial Group Inc, which has more loans in Taiwan than any other Japanese lender, as shrinking domestic borrowing costs prompt the Tokyo-based companies to expand abroad.

“Japanese banks can be competitive with loans given the low interest-rate environment at home,” said Michael Wu (胡啟泰), a Hong Kong-based analyst at Morningstar Inc. “Building relations with a Japanese lender can also be beneficial for companies with aspirations to expand into Japan.”

Mitsubishi UFJ’s Taiwanese loan portfolio is about ¥350 billion (US$2.8 billion), and Tani said he wants to increase the balance by ¥50 billion over the next three years.

The bank’s goals for the region do not end there, he added.

“If it was just about loans, we could probably cover the whole market from Taipei, but we want to improve the quality of our business by capturing deposits and settlements in renminbi,” Tani said.

The Kaohsiung branch will focus on bringing in business, with administrative functions centered in Taipei, Tani said.

The Fuzhou outlet will help Mitsubishi UFJ seize on deregulation efforts by China’s government that will facilitate trade with Taiwan, he said.

China named Fuzhou as a “model for cooperation” in cross-strait trade as part of the Fujian Province’s trial free-trade zone announced in April. The Fuzhou zone is one of three such zones that followed China’s first in Shanghai.

“There’s no question whatsoever that there will be new opportunities in Fuzhou,” Tani said.

About 80 percent of Mitsubishi UFJ’s Taiwan loan business is with non-Japanese customers, many of which have traditionally strong links with China, Tani said.

The bank sees potential for growth in areas such as Taiwan’s globally competitive electronic components sector, he said.

Mitsubishi UFJ last month arranged a US$300 million loan for the Hong Kong unit of Nan Ya Plastics Corp (南亞塑膠), according to Ho Shui-wen (侯水文), a spokesman for parent Formosa Plastics Group (台塑集團).

The transaction, backed by about 20 Japanese regional banks, was the largest so-called Samurai loan to a Taiwanese borrower, people familiar with the deal said.

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