WHOLESALE BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, Thailand

Bangkok Bank rather set up branches abroad than acquire

Size, stability and network.

These are the three key factors for Bangkok bank when considering setting up branches abroad, whether they are in developed, developing or emerging countries.

It has no plan to buy businesses for overseas expansion even though it is financially strong enough to follow such a path, said executive chairman Kosit Panpiemras.

Bangkok Bank hopes to get a return of investment in less than three years with its organic growth strategy rather than pursuing acquisitions in expanding its network overseas.

"We have invested much in terms of human resources and time, along with achieving an in-depth relationship with customers. We want to make the existing resources stronger to ensure the branches overseas can serve both Thai  and local clients for the long term," he said.

"When customers study business opportunities overseas, the bank will follow the countries that they are targeting and consider branch expansion to help ensure clients can successfully do business there. The products and services of the bank's foreign branches must also be attractive to local people," Kosit said.

Bangkok Bank had focused on major financial cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and London. The bank chose these locations because, even though it knew doing business in financial hubs would not be an easy proposition, it wanted to lay the foundations for the next business generations, he said.

Bangkok Bank now operates 26 branches in 13 markets, seven of which are in Asean.

The upcoming implementation of the AEC in a little over two years' time has given a shine to Asean countries and provided a firm focus for the bank, he said, adding that Asean connectivity has convinced it to build a strong structure, especially in local human resources.

The bank plans to open a third Indonesian branch in Medan in the near future, and might also consider resuming operations in Cambodia.

It only has two branches in Indonesia despite entering the country in 1968.

"We must catch up in Indonesia because there will be greater business opportunities and Thai companies are expected to expand their businesses there," said the executive chairman.

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