BRANCH BANKING | Staff Reporter, Australia

ANZ sets its sights on Burma

The once pariah nation of Burma appears an attractive prospect for the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

Chief Executive Mike Smith said Australia’s improving diplomatic ties with Burma, or Myanmar, could lead the bank to a more aggressive expansion in this country. ANZ plans to secure almost a third of its earnings from Asia within six years.

Smith said Burma was attractive for its strategic position between India and China and its rich resources. He wants to set up operations in Burma if relations between Australia and Burma were normalized.

"We can't do anything until the Australian government lifts its restrictions (on doing business in Burma) but hopefully that will be a positive. I would like to have a presence there too."

Besides Burma, ANZ wants to do more business in China, Thailand, Korea and Japan. ANZ wants to have as many as 30 branches in China, where it now holds a domestic banking licence.

The bank also wants to have a licence in Thailand, which is not issuing any new licences until 2014.

Smith wants to make ANZ a “super regional” bank by aggressively expanding its Asian operations. The bank’s goal is to boost earnings from Asia to 30% over the next six years.

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