OCBC gets nod to open branch in Myanmar

OCBC Bank has been given the green light to open a branch in Myanmar - one of the first three foreign banks to win the right to enter the fast-emerging market.

The other two are Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

OCBC said in a release that it received the final regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Myanmar yesterday, and will commence branch operations in Yangon on April 23.

A total of nine banks from Singapore - including United Overseas Bank (UOB) - Malaysia, Thailand, China, Japan and Australia were awarded provisional banking licences last October.

UOB is hoping it will not have to wait long to win regulatory approval to open a full branch.

"Our branch is ready for business and we are waiting for regulatory approval to open our doors," a UOB spokesman said.

The OCBC Yangon branch is housed in the Union Financial Centre, at the corner of Mahabandoola Road and Thein Phyu Road.

It will offer a full range of banking services to foreign companies and joint ventures, as well as domestic banks in Myanmar.

They include cash management, project financing, working capital financing and trade finance, as well as treasury and capital markets advisory and services.

The branch will also provide banking services to Myanmar companies in partnership with local financial institutions.

Customers will be able to open current and savings accounts in three denominations - the Myanmar kyat, the United States dollar and the Singapore dollar - and take out loans and apply for trade and foreign exchange facilities.

OCBC will also be among the first foreign banks to offer Internet banking facilities to corporate customers in Myanmar.

"With our business Internet banking platform, Velocity@ocbc, customers will have convenient access to their bank accounts and may initiate payments from wherever they are, 24/7," said the bank.

The new branch has a registered capital of US$75 million (S$102 million). It has more than 20 employees, most of whom are Myanmar nationals.

Mr Daniel Tan, the general manager-designate, will assume the role of general manager of the branch.

OCBC has had a presence in Myanmar for 60 years in all, over separate periods, having first operated as a branch for 40 years from 1923 to 1963, before returning to set up a representative office in 1994.

"This licence allows us to continue our support of foreign-related investments and projects in the ongoing development of the Myanmar economy as well as to support the growth of its banking sector," said Mr Linus Goh, OCBC head of global commercial banking.

He noted that the bank has seen a 40 per cent surge in the number of customers going overseas over the past 18 months, with "resource-rich Myanmar (as) an attractive investment destination for our regional customers", especially with the December launch of the ASEAN Economic Community.

"OCBC Yangon branch is a significant addition to OCBC's regional footprint, in particular because of the strong interest in Myanmar from our customers across South-east Asia and Greater China," said Mr Goh.

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