Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) yesterday marked the formal incorporation of its local subsidiary, ANZ Bank Taiwan, as part of its efforts to increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We intend to grow revenue contributions of operations outside of Australia and New Zealand from the current 20 percent to between 25 percent and 30 percent in 2017,” ANZ Asia Pacific chief executive Gilles Plante said in Taipei.
The aim is ambitious since ANZ, the third-largest bank in Australia, only began its aggressive expansion in the region four years ago, Plante said.
The bank plans to achieve its goal through organic growth and shun head-on competition with local banks across the region, he said.
ANZ will focus on cultivating long-term relationships with commercial and premier retail customers, he said.
He said the bank has identified three priority markets for its strategy of evolving into a super-regional bank — Greater China, India and the Greater Mekong region that spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
ANZ, which entered Taiwan in 1980, acquired Royal Bank of Scotland’s local retail, wealth and commercial businesses in 2010.
Taiwan is an important franchise because it lies in a strategically important location of the Greater China area, Plante said, acknowledging that the nation’s market has the lowest return on equity in Asia due to excessive competition.
“That is why we’re only banking [on] a small portion of the market and have to be well-disciplined about the segment and products,” he said.
ANZ Taiwan shut four branches in Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市) in June last year that it decided would not advance its retail strategy of serving affluent and successful customers, leaving it with 14 branches.
It initially planned to open a flagship branch in a key location, but is now having second thoughts given the increasing popularity of Internet banking.
“It remains to be seen if branches are a burden or plus now that most customers carry out transactions online,” ANZ Taiwan chief executive Terry King (經天瑞) said.
ANZ Taiwan posted NT$125 million (US$4.19 million) in pre-tax losses for the first two months of this year, after pre-tax income totaled NT$2.14 billion last year, a drop of 18.85 percent from 2011, according to Financial Supervisory Commission data.