Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bangkok Bank branch opens its doors

Bangkok Bank opened its Yangon branch office yesterday with a paid-up capital of US$200 million, according to company officials.

Bangkok Bank officials lead a tour of their branch yesterday. Photo: Thiri Lu / The Myanmar TimesBangkok Bank officials lead a tour of their branch yesterday. Photo: Thiri Lu / The Myanmar Times

The bank is the largest in Thailand, and the only one from that country among the nine foreign banks allowed to open a branch in Myanmar.

Thailand is the second-largest source of foreign investment in Myanmar after China, and that country’s investors will be the initial target for Bangkok Bank in Myanmar, as they are familiar from operating together in Thailand, said senior vice president and branch manager Kanet Buranasin.

“We have the luxury of knowing them, so Thai customers will be one of our top priorities, but others from different countries will also be our customers,” he said.

The branch is on Kabar Aye Pagoda Road near Yangon’s Sedona Hotel. Company officials said the fact that it is the only one of the nine foreign banks with a standalone branch, rather than a location inside an office building, shows its commitment to the country.

Chaiyarit Anuchitworawong, Bangkok Bank executive vice president, said the bank plans to offer a number of services from its Yangon branch, including trade finance, fund transfers, loans to businesses and will also play a part in syndicated loans in the future.

Thailand and Myanmar are close neighbours, leading the bank to having a strong passion for the country. “There are both similarities and dissimilarities between Thailand and Myanmar,” he said. “Myanmar is developing itself very quickly.”

With the rapid pace of development, it is important that progress takes place properly as well as quickly. He added that the bank will be able to discuss with its customers on when is the correct time to enter Myanmar.

While Bangkok Bank has had a Yangon representative office for about 20 years, most of the change it has witnessed has happened in the last five, he said.

The foreign banks have been brought in partly with the goal of improving foreign investment flows to the country. They will initially be limited to one branch and barred from retail banking and from lending to local companies directly.

Some local bankers have said foreign banks have been given too much leeway to operate, but Kanet Buranasin said the market has so much potential, he does not believe only local or foreign banks will be successful, but they can both do so together.

Bangkok Bank already has a number of connections with local banks such as KBZ and CB, and also aims to improve the domestic financial sector in areas such as contributing to the development of the the interbank and foreign exchange markets.

The Myanmar Investment Commission has previously permitted about $10 billion in Thai investment from 85 different companies as of the end of April, representing 18 percent of total foreign investment approved to Myanmar.

China is the largest source of approved investment at $15 billion or 26pc of the total.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has also received permission to open its Yangon branch as of June 2.

Six of the nine banks awarded banking licences last year have now received that permission, with the remaining three expected to receive the go-ahead by the end of September.

The last three banks yet to open are Maybank, Mizuho and ANZ.