| James Kon |
THE first Chinese bank to establish its footprint in Brunei Darussalam, Bank of China (Hong Kong), or BOCHK, officially opened its branch in the Sultanate yesterday which is expected to further fuel the growth of the local financial market.
The guest of honour who graced the prestigious opening ceremony at The Empire Hotel & Country Club was Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, Minister of Home Affairs.
Also in attendance were Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mohamad Roselan bin Haji Mohamad Daud, Acting Minister of Finance cum Acting Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office; Yusof bin Haji Abdul Rahman, Managing Director of Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD), Yang Jian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam; Wang Xiao Lin, General Manager of BOCHK Brunei branch; officials from various government agencies and prominent members of the local Chinese community.
Highlighting the importance of setting up a branch of BOCHK in Brunei, Xu Luo De, Executive Vice-President of Bank of China (BOC), said, “Today’s establishment of our Brunei branch is a meaningful milestone as it is a strategic move in line with the development of the bilateral relationship between the two countries (China and Brunei). Brunei Darussalam is one of the important members of Asean and has a long and unique culture as well as political and economic stability. Brunei is well positioned in this region in terms of economic development and is becoming more influential in the international community.
“Brunei and China enjoy a long-standing relationship which is entering a new era with the Brunei Government making great efforts to diversify its economy and to upgrade its industries and infrastructure. And as a result, a growing number of Chinese companies are setting up their businesses in Brunei. At the same time the Chinese Government is actively promoting the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative which aims to provide more opportunities for closer cooperation between the two countries.”
The establishment of the Brunei branch, he said, “has deepened mutual cooperation and will be instrumental in driving further bilateral and trade cooperation. In addition, it is also an important step for Bank of China in optimising its network within the 10-member Asean”.
Reaching its 100 years of establishment, Xu Luo De said, “Bank of China is the most internationalised and diversified bank in China. Currently, Bank of China’s overseas offices, branches and subsidiaries cover 49 countries. Financial services offered include commercial and investment banking, fund management, direct investment, insurance and leasing. Bank of China also has an extensive network of more than 1,600 corresponding banks in 149 countries.”
He added, “With the establishment of Brunei Branch, Bank of China has extended its network coverage to all the 10 Asean member countries. With the strong network, we can provide a more comprehensive and convenient financial services to customers within this region.”
Meanwhile, Lin Jing Zhen, Deputy Chief Executive of BOCHK, in his remarks said, “For the past 100 years, Bank of China Hong Kong has been an active player in Hong Kong’s highly open and competitive financial market. We have accumulated a great deal of overseas experience and built a solid foundation with a strong capital position.”
He added, “Our outstanding performance and sound corporate governance have been well organised by the market and customers. We maintain leading market positions in all major businesses. Our branch network is the most extensive in Hong Kong and together with our diversified service platform, we provide corporate, institutional and personal customers with a comprehensive range of financial, investment and wealth management services.”
In Brunei, he said, “We see a lot of opportunities arising from the Brunei Government’s initiatives to promote the diversification of its industries, attract business investment and develop SME businesses. Our Brunei branch will ride on Bank of China Hong Kong’s strengths in RMB and SME businesses to better serve the Brunei market with more premium choices”.
The establishment of the Brunei branch, he explained, “is a crucial step in Bank of China’s plan to further strengthen its integrated services capacities in the Asean region. Bank of China Group is currently implementing a strategic restructuring of its Asean assets and BOCHK is set to be the regional hub providing full support to the business development of the group’s Asean institutions along the Belt and Road”.
He revealed that BOCHK is now transforming from a local bank into regional bank. Apart from the setting up of the Brunei branch, BOCHK has completed the acquisition of the share capital of Bank of China (Malaysia) Berhad from BOC in October and will complete the acquisition of five other institutions in Southeast Asia one after another, according to its strategic plan.
The restructuring of Asean’s institutions and assets “will create synergy for the group in the region. Capitalising on our financial strengths, product innovation, risk management and leadership in RMB services, we will provide premium financial services and support to quality local enterprises in Asean,” he said.
The establishment of Brunei branch, he noted, “will further internationalise BOC. It not only marks the extension of BOC Group’s network coverage to all 10 Asean member countries but also represents an important part of BOCHK’s business development strategy in Southeast Asia. Ultimately, our vision and goal for BOCHK Brunei branch is for it to become a mainstream bank deeply rooted in the Brunei market. BOCHK will further leverage the opportunities arising from the establishment of the Brunei branch in offering comprehensive financial services to corporates, multinational companies, government and financial institutions as well as individual customers in both countries”.
The BOCHK Brunei branch is located in the Kiarong Jaya Complex and will offer corporate banking, syndicated loan, RMB, cash management, trade finance, non-banking, public sector and personal banking services.