Citigroup Inc and HSBC Holdings Plc, two of the world's largest banks, on Wednesday dampened investor expectations that they may soon buy large US retail banks. \nCitigroup chief executive Charles Prince said US retail bank valuations are "out of line." He said the world's No. 1 financial services company will wait for lower prices, while continuing its focus on expanding its existing businesses. \nMeanwhile, Douglas Flint, HSBC's finance director, said Britain's largest bank is focused on developing newly acquired businesses, such as consumer finance company Household International Inc. HSBC's US banking operations are already among the 10 largest. \nThe announcements contributed to a 3.6 decline in shares of Washington Mutual Inc, the largest US savings and loan. The Seattle-based company was last month the subject of speculation that either Citigroup or HSBC might buy it. Its shares rose 9 percent on May 21 when the HSBC rumors peaked. \nA wave of US bank mergers began in earnest last October, when Bank of America Corp agreed to pay US$47 billion for FleetBoston Financial Corp. Then in January, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co agreed to pay US$58 billion for Bank One Corp. Many smaller banks have also agreed to buyouts. \n"Expectations of sellers are higher than what perceived buyers are willing to pay," said Bob Maneri, an analyst at Victory Capital Management in Cleve-land, Ohio. \n"For more than just WaMu, but perceived sellers among banks in general, it means they may not get the prices they had hoped for," he said. \nSpeaking at a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co conference, Prince said Citigroup will consider acquisitions in global transaction services, which provide securities servicing, cash management and other services. \nBut Prince said US retail banks appear too costly, though the company has often said it wants to expand in the northeast, California, Florida and Texas. \n"We're in a cycle where the pricing on US retail branches is out of line," Prince said. "We'll wait for the next time when those activities are more moderately valued." \nHSBC suggested it is unlikely to soon follow British rivals in making another big US retail banking push. \nFlint said HSBC would look at smaller purchases, particularly in Asia.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.