Maybank plans 100 branches in Asean

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Vientiane (The Star/ANN) - Malaysian financial services group Maybank is planning to open more than 100 branches in Asean nations over the next three years to realise its target to capture between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the banking market share in countries where it has presence.

The next few years would see Maybank expanding its businesses across Asean with plans to have 450 branches in Indonesia from its current 380 and another 13 more branches in Singapore to make it a total of 35 branches in the island republic, Maybank president and chief executive officer Abdul Wahid Omar said yesterday.

"We believe in the future of Asean and as a Malaysian bank that has expanded beyond our borders, we believe it is important for Maybank to have complete presence across the region," he told Malaysian journalists in Vientiane.

"This way, we can play a more effective role in facilitating trade and investment intra Asean."

Maybank now has complete presence in all Asean countries with the unveiling of its first branch in Laos on Monday, which was opened by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

The bank has set a goal to open five additional branches in this country of 6.5 million people and a gross domestic product of US$8 billion.

Wahid said that Maybank, which currently has 11 branches in Cambodia, planned to expand it to 20 while in the Philippines, the bank's target was to have 100 branches in the next three years.

To a question, Wahid said Malaysian banks were not being overly ambitious in its expansion plans by opening many branches outside the country.

"Absolutely not. We believe for Asean to prosper, it is important for the region to be supported by a number of well-capitalised, well-run and well-networked banks that can facilitate intra-Asean trade and investments.

"Aside from Malaysian banks, there are several Singapore banks that are active and it is our hope that other Asean banks would also expand their presence in the region," he said.

On whether homegrown banks were affected by the eurozone crisis, Wahid said the country's banking system had limited exposure to the banks in Europe, adding that while the banks were well capitalised, the underlying economy was strong and was supported by strong fundamentals.

"Not only is the economy growing but the financial system is efficient and there is effective governance by the central bank and other regulators.

"Banks play their role by mobilising deposits and channelling them to productive sectors of the economy," he said.

Wahid, however, said that Maybank was mindful that with the slowing economy in Europe, the export sector would be affected and customers exporting products to Europe needed to be given sufficient flexibility to manage their cashflow.

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