Unions petition to delay consolidation of state-run banks

By Kevin Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 12

Union representatives from several state-run banks yesterday petitioned lawmakers and government officials to delay the consolidation of state banks.

The union representatives said the plan to consolidate the banks has led many state bank employees to fear they will lose their jobs, a statement issued by the unions said yesterday.

The unions of International Commercial Bank of China (ICBC, 中國國際商銀), Hwa Nan Financial Holdings Co (華南金控), Taiwan Business Bank (臺灣企銀) and First Commercial Bank (第一銀行) also warned that the government's rush to merge state banks has resulted in lower stock prices for some of the banks.

Taiwan Business Bank shares fell 0.87 percent to NT$9.07 (US$0.27) yesterday on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The bank's stock has plunged 18.29 percent this year.

Hwa Nan Financial dropped 2.3 percent to NT$21.25 yesterday and has fallen 15 percent since the beginning of this year.

Shares of Mega Financial Holding Co (兆豐金控), the parent company of ICBC, traded 1.94 percent lower at NT$20.2 yesterday and have declined 17 percent this year, while First Financial Holding Co (第一金控), which owns First Commercial, edged down 0.88 percent to NT$22.6 yesterday and have plummeted 10.32 percent this year.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰), a member of the legislature's Finance Committee, presided over the presentation of the petition by the unions and asked the Ministry of Finance to put off consolidation of the banks until President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) term ends in May next year.

Fai, who plans to compete for the convener seat of the Finance Committee this legislative session, said he would work to block the consolidation of state banks as long as he serves as a lawmaker, the statement quoted him as saying.

In response, Deputy Minister of Finance Liu Teng-cheng (劉燈城) said he respected the opinions of Fai and the unions, but added that future state bank consolidation hinged on government policy, not the actions of the ministry.