Pearl River Delta

Wing Hang maps expansion course

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2005, 12:00am

Mid-tier lender Wing Hang Bank plans to grow its business in the mainland and Macau through acquisitions, said chairman and chief executive Patrick Fung Yuk-bun.

Given their fast growing economies and targeted rates of expansion, the mainland and Macau were likely to account for 25 to 30 per cent of the group's assets in three years' time, from about 20 per cent presently, Mr Fung said.

Mr Fung was speaking after unveiling Wing Hang's record interim net profit - up 32 per cent to $700.62 million. He said the profit contribution from the mainland was still relatively small and the bank' presence there had yet to achieve economies of scale. Also, taxation was higher than in Hong Kong. However, group operations in Macau had already provided better returns.

'As both markets are fast-growing, we will devote more resources to them and expand our business,' he said.

Loan growth in the mainland was 26 per cent and 10.5 per cent in Macau.

At Banco Weng Hang, the group's Macau unit, pretax profit rose almost 25 per cent to $102 million for the first half, accounting for 12 per cent of total profit.

Wing Hang's closest Hong Kong rival in Macau, Dah Sing Bank, has agreed to buy most of the Macau-based assets of Portugal's Banco Comercial Portugues for $1.67 billion. Mr Fung said the move would have little impact on Wing Hang's Macau operations.

'We have been there for 50 years and our market share has been growing steadily,' he said.

He conceded, however, that the bank might expand through acquisition in the marketplace if such an opportunity arose. Such a route would be more cost-effective than organic growth. The bank was also keeping an open mind concerning acquisitions in the mainland, particularly in the Pearl River delta.