Bangkok Bank maintains global expansion plans

Bangkok Bank (BBL) is continuing to grow its international banking business while making an adjustment in strategy, in line with countries’ changing economic circumstances.

Despite China’s sluggish economic circumstances. Despite China’s sluggish economic growth, the world’s second-largest economy still has strong potential to grow over the long term.

The bank will continue to grow its banking business in China and support its customers’ business expansion, both inbound and outbound, said president Chartsiri Sophonpanich.

Customers of Bangkok Bank (China) have been searching for business opportunities overseas, especially within ASEAN as the regional economy has high growth potential, he said. In additional, both local and international customers have expanded their supply chains across the region and the bank is ready to support these clients with its strong regional networks.

BBL, Thailand’s largest lender by total assets, has a presence in nine of the 10 ASEAN member states. The bank closed its Pakse branch in Laos in 2022, but continues its operation in Vientiane.

Mr. Chartsiri said the bank would adjust its international banking business strategy in line with the economic circumstances of each country. Despite the closure of the Pakse branch in Laos, the bank will continue its business operations in the country as the market still generates a return for the bank, he said.

The international banking business generates roughly 25% of the bank’s total revenue. The contribution of each country is in line with its business structure and economic situation, Mr. Chartsiri said.

The acquisition of Indonesia’s PT Bank Permata in 2019 supported the bank’s income in the business segment. Given the full range of financial services provided by Permata, BBL has continues to grow its business in Indonesia.

“Following the acquisition of Permata, we have no plans to acquire other banks. The bank focuses mainly on organic growth rather than inorganic growth,” he said.

Mr. Chartsiri said the bank would maintain its total loan growth target in the range of 4-6% in 2023, despite recording growth of only 0.6% in the first of 2023.

Continuing economic recovery in the second half of 2023 was mainly attributed to a rebound in the tourism sector, which would be a key drier of economic growth in 2023, he said.

The bank expects foreign tourist arrivals to increase to 30 million in 2023.

BBL has no plans to increase interest rates for either deposits or loans after the Bank of Thailand increased its policy rate by 0.25 percentage points in August.

The unchanged lending rates should support the debt repayment ability of retail customers, including small and medium-sized enterprises, said the bank. Most of these customers can afford to repay debt even as interest rates rise, though the bank continues to assist the vulnerable segment with debt restructuring.

Under this scenario, the bank has been able to contain its non-performing load ratio at a satisfactory level of 2.9%, Mr. Chartsiri said.

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