At the end of last year, the nation’s 15 financial conglomerates saw their combined foreign exposure rise 2.1 percent to NT$20.89 trillion (US$738.79 billion at the current exchange rate) from NT$20.46 trillion in the third quarter, as they increased overseas equity investments amid bull markets, Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) data showed.
Exposure — lending and investment — is a gauge of the firms’ financial risk, the commission said.
Overseas investment for the firms expanded 3.11 percent quarterly to NT$16.21 trillion in the fourth quarter of last year, while their unrealized gains stood at NT$284 billion, up 51 percent from a quarter earlier, FSC data showed.
The firms’ investment in the US, the largest market in terms of overseas investment, grew by NT$183 billion quarter-on-quarter to NT$5.75 trillion — the largest increase among all markets — while their unrealized gains jumped 42.5 percent to NT$145 billion, which could be attributed to US stock markets’ booming fourth quarter, the data showed.
The firms increased their investment in China by NT$142 billion to NT$1.59 trillion, the second-largest rise, while their unrealized losses improved from NT$9.2 billion in the third quarter to NT$1 billion at the end of last year, the data showed.
On a quarterly basis, their investment in South Korea increased by NT$76 billion, while investment in Australia grew by NT$35 billion and in Japan by NT$18 billion, the data showed.
Despite the political unrest in Hong Kong, the conglomerates boosted their investment in the financial hub by NT$10 billion to NT$324 billion, the data showed.
By comparison, the firms’ combined lending in overseas markets fell NT$105 billion quarterly, or 2.8 percent, to NT$3.39 trillion, which could be attributed to cautiousness on the part of their banking units after many of them had seen loans turn sour in markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Among the top 10 markets — the US, China, the UK, Hong Kong, France, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada and the United Arab Emirates — lending by the firms fell in all 10, except for Australia, Canada and South Korea, the data showed.
China remained the firms’ largest lending market, with combined lending of NT$637 billion, down 4.5 percent from the third quarter, while lending in Hong Kong, the No. 2 market, fell 2.2 percent to NT$530 billion, the data showed.
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