UOB aims to double lending to Chinese firms

UOB aims to double lending to Chinese firms

United Overseas Bank (UOB) aims to double its corporate lending to Chinese firms expanding into South-east Asia by 2016.

The bank has just set up a foreign direct investment (FDI) advisory unit in Beijing, following the establishment of similar units in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The FDI advisory teams provide companies with access to UOB's banking services and help them with their plans to expand into ASEAN.

Mr Eric Tham, managing director and head of UOB's group commercial banking, said at the unit's launch on Tuesday: "Their advisory services can range from providing Chinese firms with information on how to navigate local markets, regulations and cultural nuances, to providing business referrals and networking event opportunities that can matchmake these Chinese firms with suppliers and customers."

The bank's cross-border loans to Chinese enterprises grew 23 per cent last year, thanks to China-ASEAN trade volume reaching a record US$400 billion (S$496 billion) last year.

Chinese corporate cross-border loans now make up a quarter of UOB's total cross-border loans book, up from just 3 per cent in 2010.

From 2010 to 2011, UOB's loans rose from hundreds of millions of dollars to billions.

UOB plans to set up FDI advisory units in India and Indonesia.

"We believe that this will lay a strong foundation to drive investments and trade flows across borders in the region," added Mr Tham.

UOB has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) - the equivalent of IE Singapore last November.

The agreement was to help increase foreign investment and trade between China and South- east Asia. Since then, UOB customers have had exchanges with visiting trade delegations, business referrals and access to key industry events.

Dr Zhang Wei, vice-chairman of CCPIT, said, "When expanding into South-east Asia to tap on its rich natural resources, Chinese enterprises need a prudent banking partner with a good track record and a keen understanding of local market dynamics to ensure success and sustainability over the long term."

songyuan@sph.com.sg


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