Maybank set to strengthen presence in Southeast Asia

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Maybank is Malaysia's largest lender. It has also been gradually consolidating its position in Asean over the past few years under a five-year growth plan launched in 2010. Maybank is Malaysia’s largest lender. It has also been gradually consolidating its position in Asean over the past few years under a five-year growth plan launched in 2010.

Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank) is set to strengthen its presence in Asean this year by expanding its network of branches across the region to become a leading bank in Southeast Asia.

Maybank, which is now Malaysia’s largest lender, has been gradually consolidating its position in Asean over the last few years under a five-year growth plan launched in 2010.

The banking group’s president and chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Farid Alias said 2015 will be a significant year for Maybank as it will see the culmination of its growth strategy at the same time as Malaysia takes over the chairmanship of Asean.

Maybank is the fourth largest bank in Asean with total assets of more than USD150 billion, while its Islamic finance arm, Maybank Islamic Berhad, is the world’s third largest Islamic bank. Maybank has a presence in all 10 Asean countries as part of its international network of 2,200 branches and offices in 20 countries.

“Maybank’s strategy for this year is basically to improve our capabilities outside Malaysia … whether in our consumer banking business or our global banking business,” Abdul Farid said.

He said the focus will be on enhancing the conversation and interactions with its employees and customers regionwide, with the aim of improving the support that Maybank provides to them.

In short, Abdul Farid said, the bank was trying to transform its relationship with its customers in Asean, in the same way that it has maintained its relationship with customers in Malaysia and Singapore.

“Our relationship with our customers in Malaysia and Singapore is very strong, and we want to have a stronger relationship with customers in Asean as well,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the Asean CEO conference recently.

Asked if Maybank remained strong in the current challenging global environment, Abdul Farid said Malaysian banks continue to be strong enough despite the perception that the banks do not have the same lending capacity as before.

“Banks are faced with funding challenges but that is not confined to just Malaysia. It affects all banks in this region,” he said.

“We do a lot of stress testing – against specific events, general events, oil price going down by 50%, and we also stress test against certain sectors getting into trouble.”

“The banks in Malaysia have a lot of capital, we are strong enough,” he said.

Maybank building Kuala Lumpur

Asked how Maybank may be affected by the sharp fall in crude oil prices, he said the bank was strong enough to withstand this challenge even though no one could have foreseen the fall in oil price to USD50 per barrel.

“If I turned back the clock to a few years ago, no one then could have foreseen the price of oil heading to USD50 from USD100. But for us, I think we are resilient enough – whether we are talking about the banking system or the economy itself,” he said.

Abdul Farid said Maybank was strong enough to withstand this challenge, while also noting that the Malaysian government had revised its operating expenditure to reduce the fiscal deficit faced by the country.

“Growth is going to slow down a little bit, and that will affect many countries around this region,” he said.

“But we will have growth, we will have close to full employment, people will have work, people will have food on the table,” he said. “And that is very, very important.”

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