Maybank looks to the future

The Myanmar Times speaks with Maybank’s Pollie Sim after it was announced the Malay outfit won one of the coveted foreign banking licences.

Why do you think Maybank was selected over the other competitors, particularly over its two Malaysian rivals in the race?

We believe that being a leading regional financial services leader, our regional capabilities and extensive global network via over 2400 offices in more than 20 countries, including all 10 ASEAN countries, had helped differentiate us in the selection process.

In addition, Maybank is amongst the earliest foreign banks to set up representative office in Myanmar since 1994. We have participated in the financing of various infrastructure development projects in Myanmar. We have remained steadfast in our commitment to partner Myanmar in the development of financial sector and socioeconomic growth.

What will go in to setting up the Myanmar office – how many staff will be hired, what systems need to be put in place, how long will it take, etc?

For a start, we will focus on the set-up of the office premises of Maybank Myanmar branch, staff recruitment and training, adaptation of business processes for local operating environment in Myanmar, as well as the implementation of IT systems.

Maybank Myanmar branch is expected to be operationally ready for the timeline set by Central Bank of Myanmar.

What does Maybank hope to do better than its rivals in Myanmar?

At Maybank, we can leverage on our greatest assets – our regional presence, strength and experience in wholesale and investment banking and global network to facilitate end–to–end transaction banking services. We also have our strong and reputable regional client base and partners as potential investors in Myanmar to differentiate ourselves from the rest.

Within the region, Maybank is a key wholesale and investment banking player. Beside our strong presence in core markets in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, we are the only regional bank with well–established wholesale presence in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Moving forward, we hope to facilitate greater cross–border trade between Myanmar and our core markets as well as Greater Mekong Subregion, particularly in Yunnan with the opening of our third China branch in Kunming.

I understand the foreign banking licences will limit lending to [only] foreign companies and local banks, restrict foreign banks to one branch and prohibit involvement in the retail trade. Are these restrictions too onerous? Do you foresee them changing?

Myanmar is taking a very encouraging step forward in opening up its banking system to foreign banks. It is understandable that the pace of change needs to be managed on a gradual basis, and ensure that both the local and foreign banks can work in partnership for the benefit and growth of the country.

Nevertheless, we believe that the Central Bank of Myanmar would progressively liberalise its banking system over time, as the domestic financial sector continues to strengthen.

Foreign banks have to make a substantial investment of US$75 million. How can that investment be recouped? How long will it take?

The investment of US$75 million may be considered substantial. However Maybank Group is built on the commitment that we would serve as a catalyst for economic and social development wherever we operate and our involvement in Myanmar would be a long-term journey.

We will focus on growing Myanmar’s economic links and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) through trade and investment solutions, facilitating key growth industries and achieving the sustainable development of its financial sector and socio-economic growth.

On that premise, Maybank is confident that we can work with Myanmar on a win–win basis to propel the growth and development of the country ahead.

Obviously, one role of Maybank here will be to facilitate Malaysian investment in Myanmar. What areas are Malaysian companies interested in and why?

Maybank specialises in financing of power, utilities, oil and gas as well as the telecommunications sectors, which are also priority growth areas to cater to Myanmar’s immediate needs.

We have major players in these sectors across the ASEAN region, whom we hope to bring into Myanmar to participate in the exciting infrastructure development ahead.


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