StanChart puts focus on Asean

StanChart puts focus on Asean

Standard Chartered Bank will focus more on Asean markets, particularly in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), to capitalise on the region's high growth potential, increasing intra-regional trade and an influx of foreign direct investment (FDI).

With its networks across the region, the bank is keen on pursuing opportunities to provide financial services, said Standard Chartered Group chief executive Peter Sands.

The move aligns with the bank's focus on growth markets in Asia and Africa, which have contributed the largest portion of its profits.

Its emerging-market focus has also set the bank apart from its Western rivals. The London-based lender is the only international financial institution with a presence in all 10 Asean countries, with about 400 networks and 28,000 staff.

In the GMS, which in Asean includes Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the bank has branches in Thailand and Vietnam and representative offices in the other countries.

Last year, intra-Asean trade totalled US$323 billion, up 26% from 2012. The GMS recorded about $21 billion in fund flows of FDI in 2012, representing 19% of Asean’s FDI, thanks largely to rich resources, high-quality labour and low operating costs.

Mr Sands forecasts Asean will have better GDP growth this year than last.

The advent of a single market under the Asean Economic Community late next year will be a key factor driving regional economic growth.

FDI in the three frontier economies — Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia — has increased significantly.

The bank celebrates its 120th anniversary in Thailand this year.

"With a lot of high-growth markets globally, selecting the right ones is a challenge. We are very confident in the Thai market for the long term," Mr Sands said.

Standard Chartered Bank (Thai) posted a net profit of 2.95 billion baht last year, down by 9% from 2012, because of an increase in loan impairment, which is in line with the country’s economic environment.

Separately, Lyn Kokwas, chief executive of the Thai unit, was appointed chief executive for the GMS.

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