BRANCH BANKING | Marianne Estioco, Thailand

Siam Commercial Bank targets first branch in China, eyes licence in Myanmar

It has also opened its first branch in Vietnam.

At a time when other Asian lenders are keeping a lid on their regional growth plans, Siam Commercial Bank is firing up its expansion engines and is targeting to open a branch in China by 2017.

Kamalkant Agarwal, head of international banking at SCB, told Asian Banking and Finance that the bank is in discussion with the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) in its bid to open its first branch in the country.

“We believe that China does have some issues but they are fully capable of dealing with them,” Agarwal said. “While growth has slowed down, it is still growing over 6.5% which is considered very good.”

Agarwal shared that the bank will target outward foreign direct investment (FDI) from China into Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). It will also target Thai companies expanding into China.

He added that the bank is also keen to expand into other ASEAN markets, including Myanmar. SCB has recently opened its first branch in Ho Chi Minh city.

“We remain keen to establish full branch once the new government opens for banking licence again. In the interim we will continue to support both Thai and Myanmar companies from Thailand and Singapore,” Agarwal noted.

He said that SCB is “very positive” on Vietnam’s economic outlook, particularly because Thai investors are becoming increasingly attracted to expand in the country.

“At this point our priority is to build our client base and our business focusing first on Thai companies and companies trading with Thailand. Soon thereafter we will also focus on larger local companies and SOEs in Vietnam. We will also focus on MNCs,” he said.

“We have just started our international journey in more seriousness. So we do expect the international part of the business to grow in coming years,” he added.

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