Thursday, August 17, 2017

ANZ Bank receives its licence just ahead of deadline

The Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Banking Group has become the last of nine foreign banks to receive a branch licence to operate in Myanmar.

People walk past a branch of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in downtown Singapore. Photo: AFPPeople walk past a branch of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) in downtown Singapore. Photo: AFP

The Central Bank of Myanmar’s licencing committee announced it had awarded a licence to ANZ yesterday, just days ahead of the October 1 deadline.

Yesterday’s announcement allows ANZ to commence operations on October 2.

The nine foreign banks won provisional licences on October 1 last year, following a heated race for access to Myanmar, between a number of large global banks. The winners were given a year to prepare operations to meet the approval of the Central Bank.

All of the other eight banks – Thailand’s Bangkok Bank, Japan’s The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Malaysia’s Maybank, and Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and United Overseas Bank (UOB) have already received the green light to open branches.

This marks the first time that foreign banks have operated in the country for more than 50 years.

The licences come with a number of restrictions – banks are only permitted to lend to foreign busiensses and local banks.

They may team up with local lenders to offer additional services, but are prohibited from involvement in retail operations.

A Yangon-based Central Bank official previously told The Myanmar Times that once foreign banks have operated in Myanmar for a number of years, authorities will decide whether to open access further, depending on whether it will benefit the local market.

Myanmar has not allowed onshore banking by foreign institutions since 1963, when 14 foreign banks were nationalised.