UOB sets aim high with new Hong Kong unit

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 September, 2013, 3:08am

United Overseas Bank (UOB), one of Singapore's three biggest banks by assets, has launched a new foreign direct investment (FDI) advisory unit in Hong Kong and aims to double its business between the city and Southeast Asia.

The unit, UOB's sixth after Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and mainland China, will focus on cross-border investment opportunities and help bring Chinese capital to Southeast Asia, the world's fastest-growing emerging market.

"UOB Hong Kong is well placed to capitalise on Hong Kong's role as a springboard for companies expanding into Southeast Asia," said UOB Hong Kong's chief executive and managing director Christine Ip.

Southeast Asia is well known for its natural resources, which have attracted many capital-rich mainland companies.

Many mainland state-owned enterprises have set up offices in Hong Kong to serve as their key flagship offshore investment platform, thanks to the city's free foreign-exchange and capital flow systems. This made Hong Kong the sixth-largest source of FDI into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations from 2009-11 after mainland China.

Ip said foreign investment in Southeast Asia was concentrated in natural resources five years ago but had since diversified to sectors such as commodities, manufacturing and infrastructure.

UOB plans to double its business between Hong Kong and Southeast Asia in three years. Ip said she was confident of achieving that goal with growing FDI and trade volumes in the region.

Trade between Hong Kong and Asean grew 26 per cent to US$93.57 billion from 2007 to 2012, while UOB' business rose 51 per cent between the first half of 2012 and the first half of this year.