BRANCH BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, Taiwan

Overcrowded market prompts Taiwanese Bank to close branches

With Taiwan's banking industry having become overcrowded, Taiwan Cooperative Financial Holding Co aims to shut at least five branches next year.

The bank's new chairman Leon Shen said the company plans to downsize its banking network with at least five unprofitable branches in less populated districts to be merged with adjacent ones next year.

Taiwan Cooperative Bank, the banking subsidiary, has 296 branches nationwide.

The company is still assessing the ideal size for the bank but Shen said 200 branches should suffice, given the overcrowded and fragmented market.

“The branches are both assets and burdens for the group that will seek to strengthen its operations rather than increase its economies of scale under my stewardship,” Shen said in a public function on Thursday.

The planned downsizing would not be easy, Shen said, as workers unions are bound to protest and ask lawmakers to intervene.

To remove resistance, the company will keep in payroll intact but encourage early retirement with favorable compensation terms, he said.

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