Hong Leong Bank Bhd (HL Bank) is “actively” seeking acquisitions in the region towards expanding its overseas activities amid increasing competition in the domestic market. Having already established its presence in Singapore and Hong Kong, HL Bank was now “looking at” banks in countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam, its group managing director Yvonne Chia said on March 22.
Speaking to reporters at Invest Malaysia 2007 in Kuala Lumpur, she said HL Bank had previously tried to acquire a bank in Indonesia but it did not “pan out”.
“We have been looking for opportunities in the International market, but it is very difficult to find opportunities that offer value creation,” Chia said, adding that an acquisition could happen within the next few years.
She said the bank could use its RM1.5 billion cash for the acquisition of another bank in the region.
Chia said HL Bank was also looking to expand its Islamic banking business and was open to tie-ups with foreign Islamic banks.
The bank would invest between RM80 million and RM100 million in information technology this year, including e-banking and alternate delivery channels such as ATMs, she said.
She said the bank had spent an average of RM60 million annually on technology to keep the bank relevant in the market.
Meanwhile, Chia told Bloomberg that the bank aimed to boost overseas profit to 15% of net income in the next three to five years from about 6% now.
She said it was focussed on organic growth in Malaysia and was open to selling a stake in its Islamic banking unit.