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Mon, Jan 02, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Japanese merger creates a financing and asset behemoth

AP , TOKYO

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ made its belated debut yesterday, completing the merger of Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group Inc and UFJ Holdings Inc to create the world's largest financial group by assets.

The financial giants merged on Oct. 1 to become Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc, but the groups' core banks -- Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank -- pushed their merger back as engineers rushed to integrate their computer systems.

The mergers are the latest developments in a major realignment of Japan's banking sector.

Three "mega banks" now dominate retail banking in Japan -- Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

Mizuho's parent group, Mizuho Financial Group Inc, was established in 2000 from the integration of the Industrial Bank of Japan, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank and Fuji Bank, while Sumitomo is the core bank of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc, created in 2001 through the merger of Sumitomo Bank and Sakura Bank.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the world's largest by assets at around ¥190 trillion (US$1.6 trillion), posted strong earnings results in November due to lower bad-loan write-off costs, and said it expected to post a group net profit of ¥520 billion for the fiscal year through March 31.

Other banks also posted healthy results, the latest indication that Japan's financial sector is on the mend after years of losses writing off mountains of non-performing loans that piled up during the slowdown that started in the early 1990s.

But the banks could face tough competition when the government's plan to start privatizing the postal system -- which has ¥330 trillion in savings and issuance deposits and 24,700 offices around the country -- comes into full swing this year.

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is set to start business on Wednesday after it integrates its automated teller machines, according to its Web site.

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