DBS Bank (China) Ltd, a subsidiary of Singapore-based DBS Group Holdings Ltd, will set up more branches in the central and western regions of China to support the nation's plan to build an economic belt along the Yangtze River and the "One Belt, One Road" initiative.
Previously, the bank had only two branches in the central and western regions. Most of its 10 branches in China are in cities near the eastern and southern coasts, such as Shanghai,Tianjin and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.
It is waiting for an approval from the China Banking Regulatory Commission to open more branches.
Neil Ge, chief executive officer of DBS China, said recently that the lender has been closely watching China's strategies for economic development. In the next few years, it will devote more resources to the central and western regions because the Yangtze River economic belt will extend to these regions and the Silk Road economic belt will also start from the western part of China, which he believes will bring great opportunities to the bank.
"The central and western regions have become crucial areas to drive China's gross domestic product growth," he said. "Compared with the eastern coast, there is still a lot of room for economic development in these regions and a long way to go in terms of infrastructure construction."
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, industrial output last year expanded 10.6 percent in the west and 8.4 percent in the central region, larger than the 7.6 percent growth in the east.
During the same period, fixed-asset investment increased 17.5 percent in the west and 17.2 percent in the central area, compared with 14.6 percent in the east.
DBS China will also take the opportunities associated with China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative, of which Singapore is a crucial port, to better serve Chinese companies that are going global as well as local companies in member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Ge said.
The bank's development strategy is in line with President Xi Jinping's call to build the "One Belt and One Road" during a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs in November.
Wen Bin, principal researcher at China Minsheng Banking Corp, said: "The countries along the 'one road and one belt' have strong demands for infrastructure construction but lack funding and technologies. Chinese companies have the ability to develop infrastructure projects and also need financial support. So commercial banks that want to participate in the process must have a strong international background and advantages in overseas financing."
As the largest lender by assets in Singapore, DBS Group established its first China representative office in Beijing in 1993. It was among the first foreign banks to be incorporated in China in 2007.
With a growing number of Chinese companies expanding globally, the bank leveraged its network in Asia to help Chinese companies issue offshore renminbi bonds (known as dimsum bonds) and use the currency for international payment and settlement, apart from providing yuan-denominated trade finance.
Last year, DBS Group was the fourth-largest arranger of dim sum bonds, which included China Eastern Airlines Corp's 3.3 billion yuan ($525 million) worth of three-year notes issued in May with an annual interest rate of 4.8 percent.
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