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KTB welcomes TPP talks, ties with US

Bangkok Post, Thailand

KTB welcomes TPP talks, ties with US

Opens chance for more aggressive role

16 November 2012

Amid concerns over whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will benefit Thailand or not, state-owned Krung Thai Bank (KTB) is looking forward to greater business opportunities with American banks.

US President Barack Obama will make an official visit to Thailand on Sunday, and bilateral trade negotiations are expected.

Some economists have warned that Thailand faces a negative impact from the planned TPP. But KTB’s new leadership believes the pact will help the bank when it begins playing a more aggressive role in global finance.

Newly appointed president Vorapak Tanyawong, who has more than 20 years of international banking experience, said KTB and another large local bank have been approached by US banks for business cooperation in the areas of cash management, treasury and electronic banking service.

The business dealings were started under KTB’s former president Apisak Tantivorawong.

The strong countrywide networks of KTB and the other local bank are key factors attracting foreign banks for partnership.

The second-ranked KTB, 55%-owned by the Bank of Thailand’s Financial Institutions Development Fund, has 1,060 branches across the country.

"Such business cooperation with foreign banks will help strengthen KTB’s fee-based income," said Mr Vorapak. "Also, the TPP would provide greater business opportunities for several local banks."

The foreign banks basically have only one branch in Thailand each under their concentration in wholesale banking, he said.

Mr Vorapak’s experience in foreign financial institutions includes a stint as country manager for Bank of America (Thailand).

Under his four-year business plan, he aims to strengthen the bank’s fee-based income because its revenue is falling behind that of the other big players (Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank).

KTB’s non-interest income accounted for 29% of net operating income in the first nine months of the year.

In addition, Mr Vorapak said border trade is another business area set to expand in preparation for the upcoming Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

KTB plans to focus on the Indochina market except Vietnam. The bank will open a representative office in Myanmar within a year after recently receiving approval from authorities.

"Strong provincial branches will help facilitate the bank’s expansion in pursuit of border trade opportunities," said Mr Vorapak.