BRANCH BANKING | Staff Reporter, Taiwan

Taiwan’s top financial firm to invest US$1.3 billion in China

Cathay Financial Holdings intends to invest up to US$1.3 billion to acquire mainland Chinese banks or build partnerships in China.

Company president C. K. Lee, however, did not specify probable partners or how or when the money would be raised. Analysts said a probable target would be Wenzhou Commercial Bank of China in Zhejiang province.

"The development of Taiwan-China ties is growing very fast. We want to seize every opportunity we can get," Lee said.

Taiwanese financial institutions, struggling against the disadvantages posed by its crowded home market, have been exploring ways to tie up with Chinese banks to get faster access to the huge mainland market.

Trade relations between both rival states have improved to their best level in 60 years. Banking ties, however, have been slower than those of manufacturing industries due to concerns from regulators on both sides.

Taiwan recently gave its approval for the Bank of China and the Bank of Communications to establish a branch each in Taipei, the first by the Chinese banks on the island.

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