RETAIL BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, Thailand

Thailand's SCB has eyes on Mekong

Expanding in Greater Mekong Subregion countries.

Siam Commercial Bank to this region, which includes southern China, as it is expected to be a centre of economic growth after the Asean Economic Community takes shape in 2015.

Manop Sangiambut, executive vice president for international banking at SCB, said the bank's international strategy was to connect the growing banking sectors in the six countries of the GMS, adding that Thai companies were engaged in a high level of trade and investment with partners in the region.

The subregion comprises Thai-land, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and China's Yunnan province.

In contrast, SCB has no branches in Malaysia and Indonesia. The bank believes its branch in Singapore can serve Thai businesses that plan to broaden their activities in those two countries.

"The bank's planning is based on customers' requirements … If our customers are focusing on countries in the GMS, we should go [there]," Manop said.

SCB plans to set up its first representative office in Beijing next year, to be upgraded to a branch by 2015.

SCB will officially open its representative office in Yangon on November 23, and plans to upgrade it to a joint-venture bank or a branch to fully serve customers once the sector is liberalised. This might take place in 2015, Manop said.

"We will offer cooperation with local banks, more than competition, because the banking sector in Myanmar is underdeveloped," |he said.

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