Taiwan Financial to back policies on urban renewal

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Feb 17, 2017 - Page 12

Taiwan Financial Holding Co (台灣金控) yesterday said that it will continue supporting the government’s policies on urban renewal projects and expanding into Southeast Asian markets this year.

Company chairman Joseph Lu (呂桔誠) said that progress has begun in 23 urban renewal projects worth NT$23 billion (US$747 million) in loans, adding that the company is eyeing 25 prospective projects.

“Urban renewal projects are assessed on a case-by-case basis and we have not placed priority on building luxury homes,” Lu said.

In addition to lending, the company’s urban renewal task force will work on other arrangements, such as securitization and trusts, to fund the projects as well as create other investment opportunities, Lu said.

He said that an urban renewal project spanning more than 3,000 ping (9,917m2) near Taipei’s Yuanshan (圓山) area and another project covering 5 hectares of undeveloped land are among the largest projects the company is interested in.

Lu said that the lender is planning open a new banking branch in Sydney, while preparations have begun to establish a representative office in Mumbai, India.

There are also plans to establish a banking branch in the Philippines, Lu said.

The company is also planning to set up additional representative offices in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, he said.

“Representative offices will enable improved market intelligence gathering, which will speed up the progress toward establishing banking branches, and they will also help us gather feedback regarding the needs of Taiwanese companies abroad,” Lu said.

“We are taking a slow and steady approach in international expansion, and international banks have shown a high level of interest in collaborative efforts in the Southeast Asian markets,” he said.

Bank of Taiwan (臺灣銀行), the company’s flagship unit, posted a pre-tax profit of NT$19.38 billion for last year, setting a record for the second consecutive year.

As of the end of last year, Bank of Taiwan had a non-performing loan ratio of 0.26 percent and bad debt coverage of 552.53 percent, company data showed.

Bank Taiwan Life Insurance Co (台銀人壽), the company’s insurance arm, said that it has been assigned favorable ratings by agencies, including Standard & Poor’s and Taiwan Ratings Corp (中華信評), despite shouldering the burden of whole-life insurance products that bears interest obligations of 6 percent amid narrowing interest spreads.