SINGAPORE: CIMB Group plans to start banking operations in the Philippines in the third quarter of this year, said group chief executive Tengku Zafrul Aziz.
“That is the plan. We have applied to Bank Negara Malaysia,” he told Bernama on the sidelines of the CIMB Asean Stock Challenge 2016 Grand Finale held at the Singapore Exchange here.
Tengku Zafrul said the group was optimistic over Asean’s economic growth in the longer term and was thus planning to complete its presence in all 10 member countries.
The last foray into Asean was Vietnam, where a full banking licence to start operations was granted in December 2016.
For the nine-month period ended Sept 30, 2016, CIMB Group’s non-Malaysia profit before tax contribution to the group remained steady at 25% compared with the same period in 2015.
With over 1,000 branches, CIMB Group has the widest retail banking network in Asean.
It operates also in 16 markets around the globe with over 40,000 staff serving and connecting 13 million customers.
Asked specifically about the Singapore operations for this year, Tengku Zafrul said: “We will grow our Singapore business. It is going to be as challenging as 2016.”
For the first nine months of 2016, the total profit before tax contribution from Singapore was 37.6% lower at RM199 million, due to slower loans growth and increased commercial banking provisions.
However, Tengku Zafrul said CIMB Group hoped to maintain a 5% revenue contribution from Singapore this year.
He also said with the Malaysia-Singapore bilateral relationship improving, CIMB had helped not only Malaysian banks operating here, but also other businesses.
“We see a lot of Malaysian and Singaporean companies working together. What we see happening today is Malaysia and Singapore together expanding outside the region.
“We have a strong presence in Asean. So, we are supporting Malaysian and Singaporean companies to venture outside their home countries.” he added.
He noted that across the border, the Iskandar development region in Johor had attracted many Malaysian property companies and this was good.